Covenant School

Police stand outside the Covenant School in Nashville after a shooting on March 27, 2023.

(Photo: Metro Nashville Police Department)

3 Children, 3 Adults Killed in Shooting at Christian Elementary School in Nashville

The shooting took place less than a month after Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youths and public drag shows, both of which the GOP claimed were aimed at protecting children.

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Three children and three adults were killed Monday by a shooter at the Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville which serves students from preschool through sixth grade.

The suspected killer—identified by police as 28-year-old Aubrey Hale—was "engaged by police" who arrived at the scene Monday morning, and was reported dead, according to The Tennessean.

Speaking to reporters, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said a clear motive has yet to be confirmed, but he did reference a map and manifesto by the alleged shooter and confirmed the shooting was a "targeted attack."

In an earlier news briefing, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department spokesperson Don Aaron said the shooter was armed with at least two assault rifles and a handgun.

After initial unclear statements about Hale's gender identity in the wake of the massacre, Nashville police in a statement on Tuesday said Hale "was assigned female at birth," but confirmed the shooter used "male pronouns on a social media profile."

Geoff Bennett of PBS Newshour reported the suspect entered the school through a side entrance.

Police responded to a call at 10:13 am regarding an "active shooter."

The Nashville Fire Department reported on Twitter that officials had set up a family reunification center at a nearby church at 2100 Woodmont Boulevard.

As Fox News covered the police department's press conference, a woman stepped up to a microphone on camera and asked the assembled news team, "Aren't you guys tired of being here and having to cover all of these mass shootings?"

"How is this still happening?" said the woman, who said she was from Highland Park, Illinois and survived the mass shooting there last summer. "How are our children still dying and why are we failing them?"

The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), the nation's oldest interfaith peace organization, said the shooting is only the latest which must force Americans to "face the irrefutable fact that uncontrolled access to firearms endangers us all."

"FOR calls on lawmakers and communities to take immediate action to finally prioritize life over the profits of firearm companies," said the organization. "As we bear witness to psalms being inscribed on assault weapons, we call out the perversion of our faith. Mary, the resolute mother of humanity, stood at the foot of the cross witnessing brutality, inhumanity, and death being inflicted on her child. Today we are all parents looking on as the brutality and death from another mass shooting, a crucifixion, is inflicted on our children."

"Like the Israelites stood praying at the shores of the Red Sea, as the Passover story tells," the group continued, "we must act to manifest our prayers and create a new covenant committed to honoring and saving lives rather than filling the coffers of firearms manufacturers."

Shannon Watts, founder of gun control group Moms Demand Action, took aim at Republican lawmakers in the state including Rep. Andy Ogles, who posed with his family holding assault rifles in front of their Christmas tree last year. Ogles represents the district where the Covenant School is located.

Watts also condemned Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who said he was "praying for the school, congregation, and Nashville community."

Lee signed legislation in 2021 to allow most adults in Tennessee carry a handgun without a permit.

Earlier this month, Lee also made Tennessee the first U.S. state to criminalize public drag shows, on the same day that he signed legislation banning gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. Both laws, Republicans said, were aimed at protecting children.

"Just a reminder that the people talking about library books, history classes, and drag queens don't really give a shit about the well-being of children in this country," said Robert Maguire, research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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