Chris Gadd, Rachel Wegner, Kirsten Fiscus, Craig Shoup,Nashville Tennessean
Three adults and three children are confirmed dead following a mass shooting Monday morning at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville. The female suspect was killed in an altercation with police.
Don Aaron, a spokesperson for the Metro Nashville Police Department, said a white female suspect, 28, of Nashville, was believed to have entered a side entrance with two assault rifles and a handgun.
“I was literally moved to tears to see this as the kids were being ushered out of the building,” MNPD chief John Drake said.
“It could have been far worse,” he continued. “My heart and prayers go out to the families of the six people who were tragically injured.”
Aaron said seven total people, including the shooter, are confirmed dead. The tragic incident marked America’s 129th mass shooting of 2023, according to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit which tracks gun violence data.
At the scene of one of the deadliest school shootings in Tennessee history, scores of parents and onlookers gathered in a parking lot, awaiting updates, as helicopters circled the area, surrounded by a residential and busy businesses district.
Nashville shooting suspect killed by police in ‘swift response’
“The police department response was swift,” Aaron said. “Officers entered the first story of the school and begin clearing it. They heard shots coming from the second level; they immediately went to the gunfire.”
The suspect was fatally shot by two of five-member police team around 10:27 a.m. in a second floor lobby.
Drake said the 28-year-old was once a student at the school.
Kids were evacuated into a wooded area and fire hall as shots rang out. All doors were locked, Drake said. But it is unclear how she entered the building.
Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk, said investigation remains ongoing. “While I cannot comment on the ongoing nature of the investigation, I’m really impressed with the work that’s being done by law enforcement,” Funk said.
“This is the ultimate crime when school children and caregivers are the victims of senseless gun violence,” Funk said.
The shooting has gotten the attention of the White House. “Send my concern and hearts out to so many parents out there. I’ve been to so many of those sites,” President Joe Biden said.
The school shooting, which occurred around 10:13 a.m., is believed to be the fifth in the Nashville area since 2011, and first since 2018.
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Kendra Loney, a spokesperson with Metro Fire, said rescue crews responded and provided life saving efforts to those involved. One police officer sustained a hand injury as result of cut glass.
Loney said mental health professionals will be available for students and families.
More than 100 faculty and staff were transported by bus to a reunification site.
The incident was reported on social media at about 10:30 a.m. at The Covenant School, located at 33 Burton Hills Blvd.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will assist Metro Police’s probe into the shooting and as an independent investigator into the police involvement in the shooting of the 28-year-old woman, according to director David Rausch.
Covenant School parents reuniting with kids
Parents lined up in the sanctuary of Woodmont Baptist Church to give first and last names of their children to police. Vice Mayor Jim Shulman was in the sanctuary passing out bottled water to parents and other family members awaiting reunification.
Parents wait for their children, Monday March 27, 2023 after a school shooting at Covenant School in Green Hills, Nashville
Officials said children will be counted outside as they arrive and moved into the sanctuary individually to reunite with parents.
“I know this is probably the worst day of everyone’s lives,” a Metro police officer said to a crowd. “I can’t tell you how sympathetic we are.”
‘How is this still happening?’ school shooting sparks outcry
Ashbey Beasley was on vacation in Nashville, about a block away from the school, when she heard shots.
Beasley, who was at the 4th of July parade in Highland Park, IL, when a gunman opened fire, ran over to the scene off Hillsboro Pike to find it crawling with police.
“Aren’t you tired of this,” she said taking over the microphones after a news conference with Metro Nashville Police. “How is this still happening?”
Beasley continued at the microphones, passionately decrying gun laws.
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“How are our children still dying and why are we failing them,” she asked. “These shootings, and these mass shootings, will continue to happen until our lawmakers step up and pass safer gun legislation.”
What we know about Covenant School and Covenant Presbyterian Church
The Covenant School was founded in 2001 as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church and has students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Enrollment fluctuates between 195 and 210 with 33 teaching faculty members.
The Covenant School typically feeds area private schools that include Battle Ground Academy, Brentwood Academy, Christ Presbyterian Academy, Ensworth, Davidson Academy and others.