Nashville shooting: Who are the six victims of the Covenant School shooting

Nashville School Shooting
A woman prays near the likeness of four of the victims as she visits a memorial at the entrance to The Covenant School on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Nashville shooting: Who are the six victims of the Covenant School shooting

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Families and friends are remembering the three children and three adults killed in a mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday.

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

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The student victims are Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all age 9. The adult victims are Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61.

Katherine Koonce (60)

Katherine Koonce had been the head of Covenant School since July 2016 and served in the community for over a decade.

Her family described her as “devoted to her family, her friends, and especially the children she cared for” in a statement to ABC News.

“She gave her life to protect the students she loved. We are devastated by our loss but depending on our God for comfort and healing,” the family continued. “It is our privilege to honor Katherine’s legacy and to celebrate her remarkable spirit. We are grateful for the prayers of many on our behalf, and we pray for the families of the six others who died.”

Gov. Bill Lee (R-TN) said during a video address on Tuesday that he and his wife, Maria, were friends with Koonce and Peak for years.

“I am calling on the people of Tennessee to pray. For the families of victims, for the Covenant family, for those courageous officers, for the family of the shooter, for those who are hurting and angry and confused,” Lee said. “Prayer is the first thing we should do, but it’s not the only thing.”

Tricia Drake, a former Covenant School administrator, told ABC News that her last conversation with Koonce was about preparing for active shooter scenarios.

“My last conversation with her, in August, was about who she used for her active shooter training because I know that she would have researched somebody,” Drake said. “We ended up using the same active shooter training at the school where I was also a head. I can’t believe that was my last conversation with her.”

Video footage from the officers responding to the shooting showed a staff member relaying their headcount of students to the police.

“Students were in their classrooms, locked up, the professional outdoors to lead the Metro policeman. She had a key, what her headcount was, she knew exactly where the students would be, she was prepared,” Drake said. “I’m sure they had run those drills, and it’s because of Katherine and the foresight she had to make sure her staffers were prepared.”

Hallie Scruggs (9)

Hallie Scruggs was a third grader at the Covenant School, classmates with Dieckhaus, and the daughter of Covenant Presbyterian Church senior pastor Chad Scruggs.

Chad Scruggs described his daughter as “such a gift.”

“We are heartbroken,” Chad Scruggs told ABC News in a statement. “Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again.”

Park Cities Presbyterian Church, where Chad Scruggs previously served as an associate pastor, released a statement on the shooting, saying their community was “incredibly saddened by the unimaginable tragedy.”

“We love the Scruggs family and mourn with them over their precious daughter Hallie,” Park Cities senior pastor Mark Davis said. “Together, we trust in the power of Christ to draw near and give us the comfort and hope we desperately need.”

William Kinney (9)

William Kinney was a third grader at the Covenant School. Family friend Rachael Freitas said in a since-closed GoFundMe page that he “was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others.”

He loved and adored his family, Freitas said, per the Washington Post.

“Our hearts are broken for his family as they try to find their way forward,” Freitas said.

Evelyn Dieckhaus (9)

Evelyn Dieckhaus was a third grader at Covenant School.

Dieckhaus’s older sister cried and said, “I don’t want to be an only child,” during a Monday night vigil to honor the victims, according to the Tennessean.

“Our hearts are completely broken. We cannot believe this has happened. Evelyn was a shining light in this world,” the Dieckhaus family said in a statement to multiple outlets.

“It is comforting and uplifting for all of us,” they said of the support they were receiving. “Please continue to respect our privacy as we mourn the loss of our sweet Evelyn.”

Cynthia Peak (61)

Cynthia Peak was a substitute teacher working at the Covenant School. Maria Lee, the wife of Gov. Bill Lee, was friends with Peak for decades.

“Cindy was supposed to come over to have dinner with Maria last night after she filled in as a substitute teacher yesterday at Covenant,” Lee said in his Tuesday address.

Chuck Owen, a “lifelong friend” of Peak’s, wrote a tribute to her on Facebook. He recalled her friendship with his sister, Mae, saying they were the “closest of friends growing up and it seems like Cindy was around for all of my childhood.”

“When my sister Mae died, Cindy’s was one of the first faces I recall seeing; she was right here to grieve her old friend,” Owen wrote.

Owen said Cindy was a “devout servant and follower” of Jesus and that he knows she is “in Heaven with her father, Dr. Bill Broyles, her mother, Nell Broyles, and her oldest sister, Diane.”

“I also can take solace that she and my sister are once again holding hands and smiling,” he said. “Praying for the Peak and Broyles families. Hoping for better days for our country.”

Mike Hill (61)

Mike Hill was a custodian at the Covenant School. He is survived by seven children and 14 grandchildren, according to the Hill family.

“He liked to cook and spend time with family,” the family said in a statement, thanking everyone for the “continued thoughts and prayers.”

“As we grieve and try to grasp any sense of understanding of why this happened, we continue to ask for support,” Hill’s family added. “We pray for the Covenant School and are so grateful that Michael was beloved by the faculty and students who filled him with joy for 14 years.”

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In a Facebook tribute, Hartsville pastor Tim Dunavant said Hill was one of the last employees he hired while working at Covenant School 13 years ago. Dunavant continued to keep in contact with him through “encouraging texts out of the blue” that Hill would send.

“I don’t know the details yet. But I have a feeling, when it all comes out, Mike’s sacrifice saved lives,” Dunavant said. “I have nothing factual to base that upon. I just know what kind of guy he was. And I know he’s the kind of guy that would do that.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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