The six victims of the mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville Monday have been identified by police.
The three children killed were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney. They were all nine years old.
The three adults killed were Cynthia Peak, age 61, Katherine Koonce, age 60, and Mike Hill, age 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.
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A heavily-armed assailant wielding two “assault-style” rifles and a pistol killed the three students and three adults at the private Christian school in Nashville in the latest in a series of mass shootings in a country growing increasingly unnerved by bloodshed in schools.
Police said they believe the 28-year-old shooter, identified as Audrey Hale, was a former student at The Covenant School, a Presbyterian school founded in 2001. Police shot and killed the shooter, and investigators were later seen searching her Nashville-area home.
The attack at The Covenant School — which has about 200 students from preschool through sixth grade, as well as roughly 50 staff members — comes as communities around the nation are reeling from a spate of school violence, including the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last year; a first grader who shot his teacher in Virginia; and a shooting last week in Denver that wounded two administrators.
“I was literally moved to tears to see this and the kids as they were being ushered out of the building,” Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said at an afternoon news conference.
A reeling city mourned during multiple vigils Monday evening. At Belmont United Methodist Church, teary sniffling filled the background as vigil attendees sang, knelt in prayer and lit candles. They lamented the national cycle of violent and deadly shootings, at one point reciting together, “we confess we have not done enough to protect” the children injured or killed in shootings.
“We need to step back. We need to breathe. We need to grieve,” said Paul Purdue, the church’s senior pastor. “We need to remember. We need to make space for others who are grieving. We need to hear the cries of our neighbors.”
Monday's tragedy unfolded over roughly 14 minutes. Police received the initial call about an active shooter at 10:13 a.m.
Officers began clearing the first story of the school when they heard gunshots coming from the second level, police spokesperson Don Aaron said during a news briefing.
Two officers from a five-member team opened fire in response, fatally shooting the suspect at 10:27 a.m., Aaron said. One officer had a hand wound from cut glass.
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.
Other students walked to safety Monday, holding hands as they left their school surrounded by police cars, to a nearby church to be reunited with their parents.
Rachel Dibble, who was at the church as families found their children, described the scene as everyone being in “complete shock.”
“People were involuntarily trembling,” said Dibble, whose children attend a different private school in Nashville. “The children … started their morning in their cute little uniforms they probably had some Froot Loops and now their whole lives changed today.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.