Gender identity, access to guns and mental health emerge as issues as public mourns latest tragedy
Parents of Nashville school shooter Audrey Hale say the 28-year-old hid several guns from them because Hale was being treated for an emotional disorder and they didn’t want their child owns firearms, police said Tuesday.
Hale, who was shot by police at Covenant School after committing the mass shooting on Monday, had legally purchased seven firearms from various local stores. Nashville Metropolitan Police Chief John Drake said Hale used three of the guns to indiscriminately kill six people at the school, including three 9-year-old students.
Hale’s parents told investigators they knew of one of the guns, but believed Hale sold it, Chief Drake said.
“She was in the care, in the care of a doctor, for an emotional disorder,” he said. “Her parents felt she shouldn’t own guns…they felt like when she sold the one gun she no longer owned.”
“It turned out,” the chief said, that Hale had “hid several weapons in the house.”
Hale, a transgender person who was biologically female, was a former student at the school. The shooter left a manifesto and a detailed map of the school during the attack, and police say Hale decided not to attack another school because it was “too secure”.
SEE ALSO: Police chief: Nashville shooter decided not to raid another school because of ‘too much security’
Chief Drake said his department would have tried to remove Hale’s weapons if officers had gotten wind of Hale’s intentions, but, “as things stood, we had absolutely no idea who that person was. “.
Police released dramatic body camera and surveillance footage of their response to the school shooting on Tuesday. It showed glass doors being shot and the shooter sneaking through one of them to enter the school.
Constable Rex Engelbert’s body camera video also shows a woman waving to officers outside as they arrive at the school. “The children are all locked up, but we have two children whose whereabouts we don’t know,” she told police.
Three officers are shown searching the rooms one by one, holding guns as alarms go off. An officer says, “Looks like it’s upstairs.”
The agents climb the stairs to the second floor and enter a hall. “Move in,” shouts an officer. Then a barrage of gunfire is heard.
“Get your hands off the gun,” an officer shouts twice. Next, the shooter is shown motionless on the ground.
SEE ALSO: Attorney General Garland: Too soon to call Nashville shooting a hate crime
Chief Drake said the students killed – Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney – were “randomly targeted” and a motive remains unclear. He said the victims of the shooting were not all in one classroom, but were spread across the school – with the body of school principal Katherine Koonce, 60, found alone in a upstairs hallway. The chief said it was possible she was running towards the gunfire when she was hit.
“There was a confrontation, I’m sure,” Chief Drake said. “You can say [by] the way she was lying in the hallway.
Police response times to school shootings came under greater scrutiny after the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in which 70 minutes passed before forces of order storm the classroom. In Nashville, police said 14 minutes elapsed between the initial call about a shooter at the school and the time the suspect was killed, but did not say how long it took them. took to happen.
The revelation from investigators that Hale had decided not to attack another school that had security guards renewed the debate about how best to prevent school shootings.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana, pushed back against Democratic leaders and their allies who again called for an assault weapons ban. He said schools needed better security.
“It appears the shooter originally went to another school which had much stronger security and eventually went to this [other] school. Let’s get the facts,” Mr. Scalise said. “And let’s work to see if there’s anything we can do to help keep schools safe. We talked about things we can do and it seems the other side all they want to do is take the guns away from law-abiding citizens. … So why don’t we, number one, keep these families in our prayers and see if there are things that have been missed along the way.
Mr Scalise told reporters the country should focus on mental health issues which appear to be a driving force in many mass shootings. He himself was the victim of a shooting in 2017 when a supporter of independent Senator Bernard Sanders from Vermont shot the GOP congressional baseball team at a Virginia training ground.
President Biden on Tuesday reiterated his call for Congress to approve the ban on assault weapons. The president said he spoke to Chief Drake, Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Republican U.S. Senators from Tennessee Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn.
“Congress must act. Most Americans think having assault weapons is weird; it’s a crazy idea,” Biden told reporters. “I can do nothing but implore Congress to act reasonably.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, called for a federal investigation into hate crimes in a letter sent Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
“It is common to call such horrors ‘senseless violence’. But strictly speaking, that is untrue,” Mr Hawley’s letter said. “Police report that the attack here is ‘targeted’ – targeted, that is, against Christians.”
But Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday it was too early for the Justice Department to say whether the horrific shooting should be considered a hate crime. Mr Garland said the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were reviewing the incident in cooperation with local authorities.
“We certainly work full time with them to try to determine what the motive is, and the motive determines whether it is a hate crime,” the attorney general said in testimony before the commission of the crimes. Senate appropriations.
His answers came in response to Sen. John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, who wanted to know if the Justice Department would open a hate crimes investigation even though the shooting suspect is dead.
Chief Drake said a possible motive for the shooting may have been that Hale harbored “resentment” for having had to attend Christian school years ago.
The Trans Resistance Network, a radical activist group, said hatred towards transgender people “has consequences”. While saying they don’t know Hale’s thoughts, the group said the lives of transgender people were made more difficult by “a virtual avalanche of anti-trans legislation” and statements of disapproval by officials.
“Many transgender people suffer from anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and PTSD due to the almost constant drumbeat of anti-trans hatred, lack of acceptance from family members and certain religious institutions, denial of our existence and calls for de-transition and forced conversion,” the group said.
Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat and chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said using tragedy to attack transgender people “is truly misguided and cruel.”
“The reality is it’s not the shooter, just like in the many cases, the 99% of the cases where it’s a white male,” Ms Jayapal said. “We don’t know what’s going on with the shooter. I think the thing we should focus on is guns. The Republicans are trying to distract us from the fact that this is yet another issue where they’ve been on the wrong side of justice and they haven’t approached gun reform the way we should with a ban assault rifles.
— Dave Boyer and Stephen Dinan contributed to this article, which is based in part on Telegraph Service reports.