Updated Mar 28, 2023, 5:04pm EDT
North America

Nashville school shooter legally purchased 7 guns, police say

Nashville vigil
REUTERS/Austin Anthony

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The News

The 28-year-old shooter who killed six people, including three 9-year-olds, at a private Christian school in Nashville on Monday had legally purchased seven firearms at five different local gun stores, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Tuesday.

Drake said the shooter, identified as Audrey Hale, was being treated for an "emotional disorder." Officials on Monday said Hale identified as transgender, but did not elaborate on how they determined this.

However, a police spokesperson later told the Washington Post that Hale "is a biological woman who, on a social media profile, used male pronouns," likely referring to a LinkedIn account that appeared to belong to Hale. Police have used "she" and "her" pronouns for the attacker during press conferences.

Drake said the shooter's family had been worried about Hale owning firearms, but were under the impression that Hale had only purchased one and had subsequently sold it.

"As it turned out, [Hale] had been hiding several weapons within the house," Drake said during a press conference.

Police are still working to determine a motive in the shooting at the Covenant School.

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Authorities said that the shooting appeared to be a planned and calculated attack.

A search of the shooter's home turned up a map of the Covenant School alongside what Drake described as a "manifesto" that detailed the plan for the attack. He added that the writing appeared to indicate that Hale had plans to target other locations as well.

Hale's former classmate, Averianna Patton, told CNN that she had received concerning Instagram messages from Hale shortly before the shooting.

"There’s right now a theory that we may be able to talk about later but it’s not confirmed, and so we’ll put that out as soon as we can," Drake said.

Authorities said Hale had no criminal history.

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The Nashville Police identified the victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, William Kinney, 9, Hallie Scruggs, 9, Mike Hill, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Cynthia Peak, 61. Koonce was the Head of School at Covenant and Scruggs was the daughter of the school's pastor.

The attack was the 129th mass shooting in the U.S. this year, according to data from Gun Violence Archive. It has reignited a decades-long debate in the country on the extent that government should regulate the sale and purchase of firearms.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday pressed Congress to pass his proposed assault rifle ban, but said that his hands are tied when it comes to pushing further regulations.

"I have done the full extent of my executive authority — to do on my own, anything about guns," he told CNN's MJ Lee. "The Congress has to act."

Many Republican Tennessee lawmakers offered condolences to the victims' families but did not address gun control reform.

"Right now I’m not focused on the politics of the situation," said Sen. Bill Hagerty when asked about banning AR-15 rifles. "I’m focused on the victims."

Sen. Marsha Blackburn called on her colleagues to pass legislation that would increase school security.


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