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USA News

Pastor’s daughter among six killed in shooting at Christian school in Nashville

by Donna Birrell

Church vigils have been held in Tennessee just hours after a former pupil shot dead three children and three adults at a Christian primary school.

28 year old Audrey Hale who identified as transgender, was armed with two assault weapons and a handgun and fired through doors at the school, before being shot dead by officers. Hale had drawn detailed maps of the Covenant School which is a private school in Nashville for children aged between three and eleven.

The children who were killed have been identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all aged 8 or 9. Hallie is the daughter of Chad Scruggs (pictured) a senior pastor at nearby Covenant Presbyterian Church.

60 year old headteacher Katherine Koonce was among the adult victims. She was described as a "saint", who "knew every single student" and worked tirelessly to help families who struggled with money. Nashville Police say another victim, 61 year old Cynthia Peak was a substitute teacher who had been working at the school for the day. 61 year old school custodian Mike Hill was also killed.

Police say Hale was a transgender male with no criminal history, who lived with their parents in Nashville.

Nashville police chief John Drake said they are reviewing a manifesto and writings from the assailant whom they called a "lone zealot".

Mr Drake said: "We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we're going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident. We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place."

Mr Drake said investigators believed the shooting stemmed from "some resentment" Hale harboured "for having to go to that school" when they were younger.

However, no definitive motive has yet been given for Hale's actions.

Earlier this month, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a law that prohibits sex change operations on children, as well as puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

Tributes to the victims on social media include calls for prayers for the Scruggs family. Church planter JC Groves said :

“Please pray for the Scruggs family. Chad is the pastor of Covenant Church, in Nashville where the shooting occurred today. Chad and Jada’s daughter Hallie was one of the victims killed. Praying for God given strength as he has to pastor while mourning the loss of a child.”

Following the shooting, President Joe Biden has renewed calls for gun control legislation.


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