Three children and three administrators were killed in a mass shooting at Christian pre-k through sixth grade Covenant School in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee today. They have been identified as three nine-year-old students, Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. The three administrators were 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce and 61-year-old Mike Hill.
A 28-year-old shooter was killed at the scene by police responding to the incident. The shooter was armed with two assault rifles and a handgun. Police have identified the shooter as 28-year-old artist Audrey Elizabeth Hale. A LinkedIn profile depicted male pronouns for Hale, which has led investigators to believe that Hale was transgender. An investigation into motive remains underway.
As of now, it is believed that Hale was once a student at the school. The injured victims were brought to the nearby Vanderbilt Medical Center, but all were pronounced dead shortly after they arrived.
President Biden urged congress to pass a ban on assault weapons following the shooting, referring to the tragedy as “heartbreaking, a family’s worst nightmare,” during a press conference. Several celebrities have spoken out on the situation, as they continue to entreat local politicians to work towards stronger gun laws in the state. Actor George Takei, known for his role in the popular “Star Trek” franchise called out Governor Bill Lee on Twitter for his comments on today’s shooting, after weeks of Lee’s adamant focus on banning drag shows in the state of Tennessee.
The Governor just called the school shooting in Tennessee a “tragic situation.”
Think about that.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 27, 2023
The Tennessee Titans released a statement in solidarity with the victims of the shooting.
We are heartbroken by the senseless loss of life at Covenant School today. We offer our condolences to the families and friends of the victims, and the entire Covenant School community.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) March 27, 2023
Activists online raise the point that thoughts and prayers may not be enough at this point. Both media professionals and Tennessee locals pointed out the hypocrisy at Senator Marsha Blackburn and Governor Bill Lee’s statements on drag performers endangering children, while guns evidently pose a much greater threat. Many of their comments echo recent statements from political commentator Jon Stewart, who raised the same questions to Oklahoma Senator Nathan Dahm.
Reminder: Marsha Blackburn has accepted over $1.3 million in donations from the NRA https://t.co/Q5vvXWGKFq
— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) March 27, 2023
One woman jumped into the scene of Fox News’ live coverage outside of the Covenant School. The woman stated that she was a survivor of the Highland Park, Illinois mass shooting in the summer of 2022, and encouraged lawmakers to listen to survivors and victims’ families.
wow. a woman makes a passionate case for gun control during a press conference about the Nashville school shooting pic.twitter.com/tQDdSrBZZ6
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 27, 2023
Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) founded the gun control lobbying group Moms Demand Action, an extension of Everytown for Gun Safety. Watts tweeted an image that Rep. Andy Ogles shared as his family’s Christmas card in 2022. In the photo, Ogles and his family members pose with varying assault rifles and guns. Ogles is the U.S. representative for Tennessee’s 5th congressional district, where the Covenant School is located.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 27, 2023
The photo has been shared by thousands across the internet, with some even encouraging protestors to call in to Ogles’ office with complaints regarding the photo and local gun control.
Meet Andy Ogles.
While America is calling for "Gun Reform Now," Andy is the US Congressman for Tennessee's 5th district, which makes up part of Nashville, where a shooter just took the lives of 7 Americans, including 3 children.
Andy thinks that taking Christmas photos with… pic.twitter.com/qnKTD6z1Al
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) March 27, 2023
Margo Price, a Nashville based singer-songwriter, reminded Nashvillians of Governor Lee’s passage of a permit-less carry law that allows for people to carry loaded handguns without a permit in the state of Tennessee. The suspect was carrying a handgun in addition to two assault rifles today.
4 dead so far in an elementary school shooting in Nashville this am.
Can I ask you, @GovBillLee why you passed permit less carry in 2021? Our children are dying and being shot in school but you’re more worried about drag queens than smart gun laws?
You have blood on your hands https://t.co/OEdMYRkFuI
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) March 27, 2023
Governor Lee himself posted a statement on his Twitter account inviting people to unite in prayer for the victims’ families. Being home to a thriving music community, more Nashville-based artists responded to Lee’s statement and demanded reform. Among them were Grammy nominees Mickey Guyton and Sheryl Crow.
No William. Your prayers mean absolutely nothing when this was your doing. You did this. This is your fault. Do something so this never happens again.
— Mickey Guyton (@MickeyGuyton) March 27, 2023
Governor Bill Lee is yet to respond to the mounting criticism of Tennessee state gun laws, and his response to today’s tragedy.