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Friday, June 9, 2023

Body Cam Footage Shows Aggressive Police Response to Nashville School Shooter

Shooter had previously attended the private elementary school and was "under doctor care for an emotional disorder," police chief says.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department today released body cam footage showing the intense effort by first responders to quickly locate and kill a mass shooter who killed three children and three adults at The Covenant School on Monday.

“We appreciate the outpouring of support we have received, and we are tremendously grateful to the first responders who acted quickly to protect our students, faculty and staff,” the private Presbyterian school said in a statement. “We ask for privacy as our community grapples with this terrible tragedy – for our students, parents, faculty and staff.”

Three 9-year-old students — Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney — were killed, along with head of the school Katherine Koonce, 60, teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, and custodian Mike Hill, 61.

Police identified the shooter as Audrey Hale, 28, of Nashville, a former student at the school. A former classmate said that Hale sent her a message on Instagram that morning declaring, “I’m planning to die today.”

Hale was armed with two AR-style weapons — a rifle and a pistol — as well as a handgun, police said, and left behind a manifesto and map that indicated additional intended targets including a mall. Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake told reporters today that Hale’s parents thought their child “should not own weapons” and did not think there were any currently in the home, but Hale had bought seven firearms from 2020 to 2022. Drake said Hale was “under doctor care for an emotional disorder.”

“We also don’t have a motive at this time. We feel that the students that were targeted were randomly targeted, there was not any particular student that they were — that she was looking for at the time of the incident,” Drake said. “And that’s what we know as I speak.”

After the May 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where law enforcement have been highly criticized for letting 77 minutes pass before they confronted the shooter, Nashville Police announced that the start of the school year this past August would bring the “highest ever” security posture at elementary, middle, and high schools with officers will be “present and highly visible at all public elementary schools in an overtime capacity for several hours each day” and campuses “regularly” visited by on-duty officers. Police also called for the hiring of part-time “Safety Ambassadors” — including recruiting retired police officers — who would be unarmed but carry radios with a police frequency.

“The May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, just days before the semester ended for our own Metro School students, shocked the conscience of Nashvillians and left us all in sheer disbelief,” Drake said at the time. “Very soon after the Uvalde tragedy, I directed that members of our police department, led by Deputy Chief Mike Alexander, begin meetings with MNPS leadership to develop plans for enhanced security measures.”

Surveillance video released by Metro Nashville Police shows the Covenant School shooter firing multiple rounds through a set of glass-paned doors until they shattered. The shooter then stepped inside through the broken glass. Police said Hill was shot in that burst of gunfire.

That was 10:13 a.m. By 10:27 a.m., Hale was killed by police.

“I was really impressed that with all that was going on, someone took control and said ‘Let’s go, let’s go’,” Drake said of the police response.

The body cam videos released by police:


The officers who fired on Hale were identified as Rex Engelbert, a 4-year veteran of the department, and Michael Collazo, a 9-year veteran.

“They responded, immediately went inside, knew the danger that was going on. Shots were being fired at the police cars,” Drake told Good Morning America. “That did not deter them. They went anyway inside.”

Former DHS Acting Under-Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) and Counterterrorism Coordinator John Cohen, now an ABC News contributor, said that the officers did “exactly what we hope those who put on the badge will do when they confront a dangerous situation like an active shooter.”

“As a law enforcement professional, I watched The Covenant School video with an intense sense of pride,” Cohen said. “I know how hard those officers’ hearts are pumping and what that fear feels like. But this is why you sign up for the job. And they went in there and did it.”

DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) offers active-shooter preparedness resources tailored toward schools, houses of worship, businesses, and other critical infrastructure sectors.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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