Shooter Kills Three Staff Members in Second School Shooting in Five Days

29 Mar, 2023 Liz Carey


Nashville, TN ( – Three staff members were among the six killed when a former student opened fire at a private Christian school in Nashville on Monday morning.  

Police said the shooter, identified as Audrey Hale, was also killed in the incident. Don Aaron, spokesperson for the Metro Nashville Police Department, said the suspect was believed to have entered a side entrance to the Covenant School with two assault rifles and a handgun. Aaron said Hale entered the school by shooting out the glass in the door.  

Dead are Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; Katherine Koonce, 60, the longtime head of Covenant; and Mike Hill, 61, a custodian. The shooter also killed three 9-year-old students - Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. 

Hale died in the incident, police said.  

About 10:15 a.m., police said, law enforcement were called to the school for an active shooter. Because it is a private school, Aaron said, there was no school resource officer assigned to the school by the city. 

Aaron said, Hale fired multiple shots on the first and second floors of the school. A five-member team of police officers heard the gunfire, and proceeded to the second floor where they fatally shot the suspect. The entire attack unfolded in 14 minutes, Aaron said. 

Officials said a search of Hale’s home revealed “maps drawn of the school in detail, surveillance, entry points,” and other evidence. 

“We found some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this day, the actual incident,” Drake said. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”

Aaron said investigators also found evidence the shooter may have been considering another target in Nashville, but gave up on the idea because the other site had “too much security.”

The attack was the fifth school shooting in Nashville since 2011, and the first since 2018. It was also the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since the attack in Uvalde, Texas in 2022 that left 21 people dead – 19 students and two teachers. 

"It could have been far worse," Metro Nashville Police Department chief John Drake continued. "My heart and prayers go out to the families of the six people who were tragically injured."

Kendra Loney, a spokesperson with Metro Fire, said mental health professionals will be available for students and families. 

The Presbyterian Church of America, of which Covenant School was a part, said in a statement to CNN that it sends its condolences to the school shooting’s victims. 

“Our heartfelt concerns and prayers are for the families of Covenant Presbyterian Church, the Covenant School and the Nashville community. We grieve the loss and trauma associated with this horrible tragedy,” the statement said, according to CNN. “May God comfort all who mourn. May He provide wisdom to the authorities as they investigate as well as to the church leadership as they minister to a grieving congregation and community.”

The shooting comes just two school days after the last school shooting. In that incident, two high school administrators in Denver, Col. were shot as they were patting down a 17-year-old student for weapons. 

Officials with East High School said Eric Sinclair, a school dean, and Jerald Mason, another school administrator, were shot on Wednesday, March 22. During a search of shooter Austin Lyle for weapons, part of an established “safety plan,” the administrators found a handgun and several shots were fired. The administrators were shot leaving Sinclair in serious condition. Mason was treated and released from a local hospital, officials said. 

Lyle fled the school after the shooting. Later, officers found him in another county. Lyle was dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound officials said. 

According to EducationWeek, an analysis of data compiled by Gun Violence Archive found that since 2018, there have been 156 school shootings. As part of those, 23 school employees were killed. Last year, there were 51 school shootings resulting in 8 injured employees, the highest number over the six years tracked. 

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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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