What we know about the victims of the Nashville school shooting
Three students and three staff members have been killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Tennessee.
On Monday, 28-year-old suspect Audrey Elizabeth Hale arrived in a Honda Fit car and proceeded towards a Christian elementary school in Nashville, police said.
Armed with two assault-style rifles and a handgun, Hale gained entry into The Covenant School building by shooting through a side door.
Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all aged nine, died in the shooting.
Katherine Koonce, 60, Cynthia Peak and Mike Hill, both 61, were the adult victims. Hale was also killed at the scene by police officers.
Responding to the Nashville school shooting – the latest to rock America – President Joe Biden has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Friday.
Here’s what we know about the six victims:
According to The Covenant School website, Katherine Koonce worked as the headmistress at the school for seven years.
Koonce is believed to have ran towards the shooter after hearing gunshots ring out in the school.
Nashville city councilman Russ Pulley told Fox News that Koonce was on a Zoom call when the shooting began.
Mr Pulley said she “immediately ended” the meeting and did not hesitate to head straight to the shooter.
“It is my understanding from a witness at the school that Katherine Koonce was on a Zoom call when she heard the first shot. She immediately ended the call, got up and headed straight for the shooter,” Mr Pulley said.
Koonce was found in a hallway by herself, according to Nashville Police Chief John Drake.
“There was a confrontation, I’m sure – you can tell the way she was lying in the hallway,” the police chief said, adding that she was “assassinated in the hallway”.
Koonce had reportedly already taken many efforts in her school to ensure safety from gun violence, including seeking advanced-level active-shooter training.
Mr Pulley said she had “protected her children”.
“She did what principals and headmasters do,” he said.
Parents at the school have praised Koonce as a “saint”, who knew all students by name.
“She did so much for those kids,” the mother of two of the school’s children told the BBC.
“She knew every single student by name,” she said. “She did everything to help them when families couldn’t afford things, it didn’t matter. She found ways for them to stay.”
She added: “She did so much for those kids. And now gave her life protecting them.”
Koonce also authored a book titled Parenting the Way God Parents: Refusing to Recycle Your Parents’ Mistakes, which was published in 2006.
Cynthia Peak, 61, was working as a substitute teacher on the day of the attack.
In a video address on Tuesday night, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee revealed that he and Tennessee first lady Maria Lee was close friends with Peak, and that they had plans to meet with her for dinner on Monday evening.
“What happened at Covenant School was a tragedy beyond comprehension,” the governorsaid.
“Like many of you, I’ve experienced tragedy in my own life, and I’ve experienced the day after that tragedy.
“I woke up this morning with a very familiar feeling, and I recognize that today many Tennesseans are feeling the exact same way — the emptiness, the lack of understanding, the desperate desire for answers and the desperate need for hope.”
Mr Lee said that he and his wife were also good friends with Koonce, adding that Koonce, Peak and Maria were all teachers at the same school and “have been family friends for decades”.
Mike Hill was also a staff member at the school. CBS News said Hill worked as a custodian.
A woman who said she was Hill’s daughter said on Facebook that her father “absolutely loved” working at the school.
Hill’s family said in a statement that he was the father of seven children and had 14 grandchildren. The statement said they “are so grateful that Michael was beloved by the faculty and students who filled him with joy for 14 years.”
“We would like to thank the Nashville community for all the continued thoughts and prayers,” the statement reads.
“As we grieve and try to grasp any sense of understanding of why this happened, we continue to ask for support. We pray for the Covenant School and are so grateful that Michael was beloved by the faculty and students who filled him with joy for 14 years. He was a father of seven children (Marquita Oglesby, Brittany Hill, Shakita Dobbins, Ebony Smith, Joshua Smith, Tawana Smith Garner, Jeremy Smith) and 14 grandchildren. He liked to cook and spend time with family.”
A GoFundMe described Hill as “one who should not be overlooked in the wake of this senseless loss”.
“This GoFundMe is started by fellow Nashville parents who live in the community who are dedicated to honoring this hero... Mike’s family deserves peace of mind that his loss was not in vain and that some good can come from it. His legacy can live on through goodwill and love. In the end, love should always win.”
Among the six victims at the Nashville school shooting was nine-year-old Hallie Scruggs, the daughter of a local pastor.
She was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, a senior pastor at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, according to CBS News.
“We love the Scruggs family and mourn with them over their precious daughter Hallie,” Mark Davis, senior pastor at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, said in a statement. “Together, we trust in the power of Christ to draw near and give us the comfort and hope we desperately need.”
Evelyn was a third-grade student at the Christian elementary school.
"Our hearts are completely broken," the Dieckaus family said in a statement.
"We cannot believe this has happened. Evelyn was a shining light in this world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve."
A memorial for the victims of the shooting was held at Woodmont Christian Church in Nashville on Monday.
“I don’t want to be an only child,” Dieckhaus’s sister, a fifth grader, said during the service, according to The Tennessean.
“Our community is heartbroken," a statement from the school said. “We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church.”
William was a student at the school. Not much information is available yet about the nine-year-old boy who was killed in the shooting.
A GoFundMe launched for his family reads: “Will had an unflappable spirit.
“He was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others. He loved his sisters, adored his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and was always excited to host friends of every age. Sweet Will knew no strangers, and our hearts our broken for his family as they try to find their way forward.”
“When I got a call this afternoon to ask me to do this, I sat down to see if there was anything I could say that might rise to the occasion,” said Wade McGregor, part of the leadership team at Covenant Presbyterian Church.
“I sat there for quite a while with my pad of paper, and after I while I looked down at it. All I had written was ‘Pray for us’.”
A friend of the Kinney family has set up a GoFundMe page.
“Will had an unflappable spirit,” the page reads. “He was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others. He loved his sisters, adored his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and was always excited to host friends of every age. Sweet Will knew no strangers, and our hearts our broken for his family as they try to find their way forward.”