The Nashville school shooter legally bought seven firearms in recent years and hid the guns from their parents before the attack at a Christian school where the suspect killed three children and three adults, police said Tuesday.
Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said the suspect, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, purchased the guns from five different gun stores in Nashville. Three of the guns were used during Monday's massacre at The Covenant School.
Drake said investigators spoke to the shooter's parents, who revealed the their child was under a doctor's care for an undisclosed emotional disorder. The parents shared with investigators that they previously voiced concerns about their child owning firearms due to her condition. They told police they knew the shooter had purchased and sold one weapon, but were not aware that the shooter had been hiding several more at home.
Drake said Tennessee does not have a "red flag" law, so police did not have the power to take the weapons away. Red flag laws allow a concerned person or people to make an appeal to a court to temporarily restrict someone’s ability to purchase or own a gun when there is a concern for their own safety or the safety of others.
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It is not clear when the shooter was diagnosed with an emotional disorder and whether they purchased guns after beginning treatment. But since the guns were legally purchased and registered to them, a court order would have revealed the full stock of weapons in their possession for police to confiscate.
In the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, several states passed "red flag" laws allowing concerned parties to intervene. At the time, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an executive ordered aimed at enhancing school safety but stopped short of passing any new gun restrictions in the state.
"We’re not looking at gun restriction laws in my administration right now. Criminals don’t follow laws, criminals break laws. Whether they are a gun law, a drug law, criminals break laws,” Lee said at the time. “We can’t control what they do.”
Republicans, who hold the majority in the Tennessee statehouse, have also opposed red flag laws. State Rep. Jeremy Faison, the chairman of the House Republican caucus, questioned the effectiveness of red flag laws in a statement to NBC affiliate WKRN.
“From my perspective, red flag laws appear unconstitutional or ineffective," Faison said last year. "Forcibly taking someone’s gun from their house without due process creates a hostile environment for law enforcement and potentially criminalizes law abiding citizens. I am interested in how we can better equip our local schools and how we can do better with mental illness.”
Monday's violence at the private Presbyterian school is the latest school shooting to roil the nation.
Three 9-year-old students were killed, as well as the head of the grade school, a custodian and a substitute teacher. Authorities said the shooter did not target specific victims.
Drake did not say exactly what drove the shooter but said in an interview with NBC News that investigators believe the shooter had “some resentment for having to go to that school.” On Tuesday, he reiterated that the building was the shooter's intended target, and stressed that there is no evidence that the victims were specifically targeted.
Drake provided chilling examples of the shooter’s elaborate planning for the targeted attack, the latest in a series of mass shootings in a country that has grown increasingly unnerved by bloodshed in schools.
“We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident,” he told reporters. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”
Police have given unclear information on the shooter's gender. For hours Monday, police identified the shooter as a woman. At a late afternoon press conference, the police chief said the shooter was transgender. After the news conference, police spokesperson Don Aaron declined to elaborate on how the shooter identified.
In an email Tuesday, police spokesperson Kristin Mumford said the shooter “was assigned female at birth. (The shooter) did use male pronouns on a social media profile.”
Late Monday, police released videos of the shooting, including edited surveillance footage that shows the shooter's car driving up to the school, glass doors being shot out and the shooter ducking through one of them.
More footage from inside shows the shooter walking through a school corridor holding a gun with a long barrel and walking into a room labeled “church office,” then coming back out. In the final part of the footage, the shooter can be seen walking down another long corridor with the gun drawn. The shooter is not seen interacting with anyone else on the video, which has no sound.
Aaron said there were no police officers present or assigned to the school at the time of the shooting because it is a church-run school.
Additional video, from Officer Rex Engelbert's bodycam, shows a woman greeting police outside as they arrive at The Covenant School on Monday. “The kids are all locked down, but we have two kids that we don't know where they are,” she tells police.
The woman then directs officers to Fellowship Hall and says people inside had just heard gunshots. “Upstairs are a bunch of kids,” she says.
Officers climb stairs to the second floor and enter a lobby area. “Move in,” an officer yells. Then a barrage of gunfire is heard.
“Get your hands away from the gun," an officer yells twice. Then the shooter is shown motionless on the floor.
The victims were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all 9 years old, and adults Cynthia Peak, 61; Katherine Koonce, 60; and Mike Hill, 61.
The website of The Covenant School, a Presbyterian school founded in 2001, lists a Katherine Koonce as the head of the school. Her LinkedIn profile says she has led the school since July 2016. Peak was a substitute teacher and Hill was a custodian, according to investigators.
Founded as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, The Covenant School is located in the affluent Green Hills neighborhood just south of downtown Nashville that is home to the famed Bluebird Café – a spot typically beloved by musicians and songwriters.
The school has about 200 students from preschool through sixth grade, as well as roughly 50 staff members.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.