Nashville shooting: Police release 911 calls from Covenant School attack

APTOPIX Nashville-School Shooting
A child weeps while on the bus leaving The Covenant School following a mass shooting at the school in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, March 27, 2023. (Nicole Hester/The Tennessean via AP) Nicole Hester/AP

Nashville shooting: Police release 911 calls from Covenant School attack

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Nashville, Tennessee, authorities released 911 calls from the Covenant School that were made after a shooter entered and killed three children and three adults on Monday. Callers could be heard pleading in hushed tones for officers to arrive while children cried and whispered in the background.

The Covenant School, which has around 209 students and 40 to 50 staff members, is the latest site of a mass school shooting. Audrey Hale, 28, entered the school on Monday and fired at random before being shot and killed by police officers. The shooter was killed 14 minutes after the initial 911 call.

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Police released recordings of three 911 calls made by people in the school Monday morning. In one call, a dispatcher is told by a man that he is with a group of students walking away from the school and heading toward the main road.

Dispatchers could hear several adults’ and children’s voices overlapping amid the tension and confusion as the adults worked to get the students to safety. The man remained calm while making the call and passed the phone to another man when asked for a description of the shooter.

“All I saw was a man holding an assault rifle shooting through the door. It was — he’s currently in the second grade hallway, upstairs,” the second man said, per the Associated Press. “White man. With camouflage. He had a vest on and an assault rifle.”

“I heard about 10 and I left the building,” a woman said when asked how many shots were fired.

A second call was placed just before 10:13 a.m., and a woman told the dispatcher she was hiding in an art room closet. She said she could hear gunshots.

“It sounds like somebody is shooting guns,” she said before stating that there had been a pause in the gunshots. When asked if she was in a safe space, the woman said, “I think so.” Children could be heard in the background of the call. The teacher then paused again and said she could hear more gunshots and muffled thuds.

“I’m hearing more shots,” the teacher said. “Please hurry.”

A third call was placed by a man on the second floor where Hale opened fire.

“I think we have a shooter at our church,” he said. “I’m on the second floor in a room. I think the shooter is on the second floor.”

Hale was armed with two assault-style weapons and a handgun. The guns were three of seven firearms Hale had purchased legally. Metro Nashville Police Chief Drake said Hale’s parents only knew of one weapon, and they thought Hale had sold it.

The release of the 911 calls comes the same day as hundreds of people gathered at the Tennessee state Capitol to protest and call for stronger gun control reform. Per state law, there are no requirements for background checks or training for handgun owners in Tennessee. Tennessee enacted a law in July 2021 that allowed the carry of handguns without a permit, concealed or unconcealed, for anyone over 21.

Monday’s attack marked 17 school shootings in the United States in 2023 and 376 school shootings since the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999.

The Covenant School shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022. Over 20 people, including 19 students and two teachers, were killed in that attack.

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Drake said investigators are still working to discover a motive for Hale’s attack. He originally stated that the shooter appeared to have a “sense of resentment.” However, authorities have not uncovered any evidence to suggest that there were problems between the Covenant School and Hale, who attended the school for third and fourth grade.

Hale had a manifesto and detailed maps drawn of the school. The material included writings indicating Hale was considering other schools but chose Covenant School for its lack of security. As a private Christian school, the Covenant School does not currently employ school resource officers.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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