Melina Korfonta ’25
Nashville, Tennessee –– Around 10 a.m. on Monday March 27, Audrey Hale, 28, opened fire at The Covenant School, killing three 9-year-old students and three school officials. As a resident of Nashville, Hale previously attended the school and had reportedly identified as transgender. Investigators believe the 28-year-old’s murderous attack on the private Christian school may have been motivated by “resentment,” as Hale had no prior criminal history.
John Drake, the chief of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, reported that there was a possibility that some of the students harbored grudges against the institution. To Drake and investigators, it was evident that Hale meticulously planned the attack using precise maps and surveillance. Drake refrained from indicating if Hale was pursuing any particular targets apart from The Covenant School or if there was further evidence suggesting that Hale intended to open fire elsewhere.
According to authorities, Hale used a firearm to break down a locked door, shattering the glass, and then entered the school. Local and federal officials are reportedly looking through writings the former student is said to have left behind for a motive.
Among those killed was Katherine Koonce, the 60-year-old head of school at Covenant. Bill Campbell, a former school principal, recalled Hale as a third-grader in 2005 and a fourth-grader in 2006, according to the yearbooks he has. Campbell stated, “It’s just an absolute tragedy what’s happened by the former student and what she did to the teachers and students.”
According to Campbell, it seems that Hale transferred after the fourth grade because Hale was not listed as a student in the fifth or sixth grade annuals. The former headmaster reported, “I’ve looked back in my annuals and I do remember her as a former student…She was just one of our young ladies…She was just a typical co-ed. A typical student.” Campbell was unable to recollect any potential problems Hale may have faced at the time that would have raised questions. There were no reports of unusual or alarming behavior previously.
According to Drake, Hale brought two AR-style guns and a handgun to the school on Monday; two of the three firearms were legitimately purchased in the Nashville region.
Arriving on the scene, police entered the school and five cops approached Hale. Two of them fired their weapons, killing the assailant. Police were able to identify the gunman due to a nearby vehicle.
After being identified, Hale’s house was searched by investigators. The home, which is identified as Hale’s home, was entered by police tactical teams. A variety of phone numbers listed for Hale’s family members went unanswered Monday afternoon.
According to investigative reports on Hale’s writings found within the home, massacring The Covenant School was not the killer’s sole objective with other unidentified locations on the list. Nashville Mayor John Cooper believes that, due to local authorities quick work, more fatalities were avoided, “Let me commend our first responders, 14 minutes, 14 minutes, I believe under fire, running to gunfire.”
According to a CNN analysis of statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms were the biggest cause of mortality among children and adolescents in 2021, the second year in a row.
In a press conference, President Joe Biden called the shooting “sick” and “heartbreaking” and encouraged Congress to move forward with gun safety legislation. Adding that, “We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart, ripping the soul of this nation, ripping at the very soul of the nation.”