Mayor John Cooper and Councilman Russ Pulley held a citywide candlelight vigil on Wednesday to mourn and honor the lives of the victims and support the survivors and families of The Covenant School.
Also in attendance were many local, state, and federal elected officials, religious leaders, dignitaries, and other Nashville community leadership.
The First Lady, Jill Biden, also made an appearance.
Mayor John Cooper thanked the first lady for “dropping everything and coming to Nashville” and said, “I wish we didn’t need to be here together.”
Mayor Cooper told to the friends, family and parents of the victims that, “a grieving city joins you.”
Six people, three children and three staff members, were killed. The victims are students Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs, who were all nine; substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61; custodian Mike Hill, 61; and the head of the school Katherine Koonce, 60.
The shooter who was fatally shot by two MNPD officers has been identified as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a former student at the school.
According to MNPD spokesperson Don Aaron: “Officers went to the gunfire. When they got to the second floor and saw the shooter, a female. There was a five-member unit that was on the second floor at the time. She had two assault rifles and a handgun. She entered the school through a side entrance and went from the first school to the second floor. By 10:27 am, the shooter was dead.”
President Joe Biden said: “We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart, ripping the soul of this nation, ripping at the very soul of the nation. And we have to do more to protect our schools, so they aren’t turned into prisons.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Bill Lee addressed the tragedy in a recorded address.
“What happened at Covenant School was a tragedy beyond comprehension,” he said. “All of Tennessee was hurt yesterday, but some parents woke up without children, children woke up without parents and without teachers, and spouses woke up without their loved ones. We are enduring a very difficult moment. I understand there is pain. I understand the desperation to have answers, to place blame, to argue about a solution that could prevent this horrible tragedy.
“There will come a time to ask how a person could do this. There will come a time to discuss and debate policy.
“But this is not a time for hate or rage. That will not resolve or heal. Everyone is hurting, and remembering that as we grieve and walk together, this will be the way we honor those who were lost.”
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has set up a fund for donations to help with the tragedy.
“The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee is heartbroken by the horrific and senseless shooting that took place on Monday, March 27, at The Covenant School here in Nashville. Because of the outpouring of love from our generous and thoughtful community, we have established the Caring for Covenant Fund to manage the donations made in response to this tragedy,” said Hal Cato, CEO of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
Gifts can be made to the fund at <www.cfmt.org/covenant>.
All donations made to the fund, minus credit card fees, will be directed to The Covenant School to support the healing of those affected.
“Together, we will send a message of love and compassion to the entire Covenant community,” said Cato.
Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators release statement about Covenant shooting
The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators has released the following statement following news of the Covenant School shooting:
“The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators stands with Nashville and the families of Covenant Christian School as they deal with this horrible event. This tragedy should serve as a clarion call for responsible gun ownership. One hundred and twenty-eight mass shootings in America this year and today is day 87 of the year 2023! When will enough be enough? Our ‘prayers’ need to become more thoughtful and intentional regarding this issue. The TBCSL respects our Second Amendment right to carry, yet this issue of senseless mass murder has become out of control. We have got to do more to protect children and all those providing an education for them. We have done nothing to address the root problem: proliferation of militarized guns in our communities.
“We stand with President Biden as he continues to call on Congress to pass the Assault Rifle Ban. Prayers are good, but faith without works is dead. There is pending legislation in Tennessee to decrease the age of open carry to 18 years of age and add long guns on the list of weapons for regular citizens to own. As a first step, we believe this legislation should be pulled. Tennessee has some of the worst regulations on background checks when purchasing a weapon in the nation. This we all agree on. Our constituents deserve real solutions. This is not about ‘politicizing the issue.’ This is about our moral obligation as lawmakers to act. We cannot normalize mass shootings! Do not allow yourselves to become desensitized to mass school shootings. It is not normal.”