Chief: School shooter wasn’t on police’s radar

‘(Officers) heard gunfire and immediately ran toward that and then took care of this horrible situation.’
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake provides an update on Monday's shooting at The Covenant School.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 3:52 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 5:23 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - More details emerged on Tuesday about the shooting at The Covenant School which left six people dead, including three 9-year-old students.

Metro Nashville Police released body-worn camera video of two officers, Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo, when they encountered Audrey Hale, the 28-year-old identified as the shooter, on the second floor of the school. Engelbert has been with Metro Police for four years while Collazo has been an officer for nine years.

Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said there were police cars being hit by gunfire as officers arrived at the school.

Metro Police Chief John Drake talk about the officers' response to the shooting at The Covenant School.

“They got the call at 10:13 and by 10:24 they had engaged the suspect. As they arrived on the property, there were police cars being hit by gunfire,” Drake said. “We believe there had been some training for being able to shoot at a higher level. Her gunfire, from the video I’ve seen, she stood away from the glass so she wouldn’t be an easy target to be shot.

“As officers were approaching the building, there was gunfire going on. They went in, they went through door-by-door as we clear buildings. They heard gunfire and immediately ran toward that and then took care of this horrible situation.”

The White House said Tuesday that President Joe Biden had spoken with Drake, Collazo and Engelbert to thank them for their bravery and quick response to the shooting.

By the time police encountered Hale, the three adults and three children had been shot. Police said no one individually was targeted by the shooter.

Police identified the victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all age 9, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, head of school Katherine Koonce, age 60, and custodian Mike Hill, age 61.

Drake said Koonce was found in a hallway near the school office. Hill had been shot through a glass door.

Police said Monday Hale was a former student at The Covenant School.

Metro Police Chief John Drake provides update on Covenant School shooting.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the police chief said Hale was under a doctor’s care for an emotional disorder.

However, he said Hale was not on police’s radar as she had not made any threats.

“There’s not a law for (removing guns), but if it had been known to us (that she made threats), we would have tried to get those weapons,” Drake said when asked at a press conference on Tuesday. “We had no idea who this person was, that she even existed.”

Metro Police Chief John Drake details whether police could have taken guns from shooter.

Police said that when Hale left the home Monday morning carrying a red bag, Hale’s mother asked about it, but the shooter dismissed the question.

Drake said Hale had purchased seven weapons from five different stores, and the guns were all purchased legally and locally. He said Hale had three weapons at the school on Monday.

Hale’s parents did not think Audrey should own a weapon. They had asked Audrey to sell the one weapon because of the ongoing emotional disorder. Police said the other weapons were hidden in the house.

Police said Hale drove a Honda Fit to the school on Monday morning and parked it in the lot. Detectives said they found additional material written by Hale. Earlier in the day, authorities said they discovered a manifesto and detailed map listing school entry points.

A motive has not yet been determined by police.