Tennessee’s trans community on edge with focus on shooter’s gender identity Shortly after news broke Monday of a fatal shooting at The Covenant School, police said the suspect was transgender. That detail, according to trans people in the state, has poured fuel on an already combustive environment that has led many of them to fear for their safety.
Police say Audrey Hale, who was killed by responding officers, fatally shot three 9-year-old students and three staffers at The Covenant School. Although police have said no motive for the shooting is known, some conservatives have blamed it on the suspect’s gender identity.
Within 10 minutes of police having said the suspect was transgender, the hashtag #TransTerrorism trended on Twitter. Around the same time, Republican lawmakers — including Sen. JD Vance of Ohio and conservative firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia — insinuated on social media that the shooter’s gender identity played a role in the shooting. And by Tuesday morning, the cover of the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post read: “Transgender killer targets Christian school.”
“We are terrified for the LGBTQ community here,” ssaid Kim Spoon, a trans activist based in Knoxville. “More blood’s going to be shed, and it’s not going to be shed in a school.”
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Former coach didn’t remember shooter as troubled youth NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Audrey Hale was on the basketball team at Isaiah T. Creswell Middle School of the Arts, where Hale was a student from 2006 to 2010. The team’s basketball coach at the time, Antoine Buchanan, said Hale was one of the few white players on the girls’ team at Creswell, a predominantly Black school.
While he did not recall Hale as a “major player” on the team, he also doesn’t remember Hale as being troubled.
“Even thinking back to that, she would have not been a troubling person,” Buchanan said Tuesday. “If you were going to be trouble for me, I’m not keeping you on the team.”
In the minutes before the shooting at The Covenant School, Hale sent Instagram messages to a former Creswell teammate warning that something bad was going to happen and asking for forgiveness.
Melissa Joan Hart says she helped Covenant students after shootingMelissa Joan Hart is sharing her experience guiding frightened students to safety after the school shooting in Nashville.
In an emotional Instagram video, Hart said she and her husband, Mark Wilkerson, were driving to parent-teacher conferences at her children’s nearby school when they noticed children sprinting from The Covenant School.
“We helped a class of kindergartners across a busy highway. They were climbing out of the woods. They were trying to escape the shooter situation at their school,” the actor said, through tears. “So we helped all these tiny little kids cross the road and get (to) their teachers … We helped a mom reunite with her children.”
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YouTube rules prohibit violent content, but platform says Nashville video can stay YouTube said Tuesday that the police body camera video from the school shooting Monday in Nashville, Tennessee, would normally violate its policy against graphic violence but that the platform will leave the video online with certain safeguards.
The Google-owned company said the video was in the public interest as it can educate people about what happened.
The company also said it was monitoring its platform for videos, livestreams and comments that would glorify the violence in violation of YouTube’s rules.
“Following the tragic attack in Nashville Tennessee, some footage released by the Nashville Police Department has been age-restricted with a warning interstitial because of its graphic nature and will remain on YouTube as it is in the public interest,” Jack Malon, a YouTube spokesperson, said in a statement.
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Hallie Scruggs, 9, was ‘radiant’ and brought joy to those who knew herDALLAS — Hundreds of people packed Park Cities Presbyterian Church today to sit in prayer and grief and to support the family of Hallie Scruggs.
Hallie, 9, was one of six people killed at The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday. The school is housed at Covenant Presbyterian Church, where Hallie’s father, Chad Scruggs, is the lead pastor.
Mark Davis, the senior pastor at Park Cities Presbyterian, knew Chad and his wife, Jada, from their time as campus ministers with Reformed University Fellowship at Southern Methodist University. In July 2013, Chad Scruggs took Davis up on an offer and joined his church. That year, Hallie was born.
“She was a radiant little girl,” Davis said. “From every picture you see, you can just see that light in her, which we really believe is the light of Christ.”
Davis said that Hallie was selfless and energetic, that she cared for others and that as the youngest with three older brothers, “she held her own, in a good way.”
“Because she was so little, I just always saw her kind of in a swarm of activity around her parents,” Davis said. “Just so much a part of the nucleus of that family that just brought so much joy to all of them.”
Davis said that when he learned about the shooting, he immediately reached out to Chad Scruggs. It wasn’t until later Monday that he found out that Hallie was one of the victims.
“We talked for about 15 minutes, just as friends, just as dads, and we wept and talked about where you go next, what do you do next,” Davis said. “Their faith is strong. The grief is really strong, too.
“He said to me yesterday, ‘We love Hallie so much, but we know Christ loves her more, and we believe she’s with him,’” Davis said. “That’s real faith to them, and to us.”
Who were the victims of The Covenant School shooting? NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A 9-year-old known for brightening up the neighborhood with her Broadway-like performances in the driveway. A school custodian who loved students like they were his own kids. And a school leader who was determined to help every child, no matter what challenges they faced.
These were some of the victims of Monday’s rampage at The Covenant School in Nashville, where three students and three adults were killed.
Authorities identified the victims at the small Christian school as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all age 9; school head Katherine Koonce, 60; substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61; and school custodian Mike Hill, 61.
Read more about their lives.
Hawley wants shooting investigated as a hate crime Frank Thorp V, Liz Brown-Kaiser and Rose Horowitch
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on Tuesday called on federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the shooting at The Covenant School as a religious hate crime.
Hawley cited law enforcement reports that the shooting was “targeted” against the Christian school, which police believe the shooter attended.
“It is commonplace to call such horrors ‘senseless violence,’” Hawley wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “But properly speaking, that is false. Police report that the attack here was ‘targeted’ — targeted, that is, against Christians.”
In 2021, Hawley voted against an anti-Asian hate crime bill that was passed on a 94-1 vote and directed the Department of Justice to expedite the review of such crimes. The measure also tasked the attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services with issuing best-practices guidance on how to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.
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Biden: ‘Those children should all be with us still’President Joe Biden said today that he had watched footage related to the Nashville shooting and said the victims should be alive.
“Those children should all be with us still,” he said at an unrelated event in North Carolina.
The president reiterated that gun violence is tearing apart the soul of the nation and said more must be done to protect children “so they learn how to read and write instead of duck and cover in the classroom.”
Biden said that he’s a “Second Amendment guy” and that he has two shotguns, but said of automatic weapons: “These are weapons of war.”
He reiterated his call on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban.
“It’s a common sense issue, to act now. People say, ‘Why do I keep saying this?'” Biden said. “Because I want you to know who isn’t doing it, who isn’t helping, to put pressure on them,” he said, referring to Republicans.
Evelyn, 9, brightened up her neighborhood with lively theater performances, neighbor saysNASHVILLE — Evelyn was known for brightening up the neighborhood with her driveway Broadway-type performances.
“She was everything a 9-year-old should be. She was in and out of our house on a regular basis playing tag,” said next-door neighbor Nick Riegal, 45, whose two children often played with her.
There were often games of hangman and laughter coming from the back porch. And plenty of fun times during the days and evenings.
But it was the lively outdoor theater performances in which Evelyn and other neighborhood kids each chose a character from the Broadway hit “Hamilton” that Riegal said he will remember the most.
“They worked really hard on ‘Hamilton,’” he said, adding that all of the children involved picked a character and learned 20 minutes of the popular theater show, honing their acting skills.
Dallas mourners pray for Hallie’s family at church where her dad served as associate pastorDALLAS — A stream of people filed into Park Cities Presbyterian Church today to grieve and pray for the family of Hallie, whose father, Chad Scruggs, was the former associate pastor at the Texas church.
During the service, the community prayed for the families and friends of all the victims and the shooter.
Rebecca Lutz, who was at the service, said she’d seen the family when Scruggs was in town in February to speak at the church about prayer.
People leave Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, where a prayer service was held today for the family of Hallie. Her father, Chad Scruggs, was a former associate pastor at the church.Claire Cardona / NBC NewsLutz said Hallie was “precious,” and she was happy to have seen her earlier this year.
“Any way that we can just honor and lift them up and pray for them is just so important to all of us because we just loved him dearly and do love him dearly,” she said.
Scruggs spent five years at the church before leaving in 2018 for Nashville, according to the church spokesperson Shawn Davis. Scruggs and his wife, Jada, also have three sons.
Some on the right blame gender identity and not guns for Nashville shooting In the hours after the school shooting yesterday, some conservatives rushed to blame the massacre on the suspect’s gender identity, connecting the tragedy to their national crusade against transgender rights.
Little is so far known publicly about the motives of the shooter, whom police identified as a transgender former student who resented having to attend The Covenant School.
As Republicans across the country move to ban trans literature from school libraries, pass laws outlawing gender-affirming care for trans youth and prepare to campaign on fighting against “woke” values on gender and sexuality, the combination of a trans shooter at a Christian school sparked a firestorm as social conservatives claimed vindication.
“Transgender killer targets Christian school,” the cover of the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post blared in giant letters, while the #TransTerrorism hashtag trended on Twitter.
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Parents saw shooter leave home with a red bag and asked what was in it, police sayThe parents saw the shooter leave the home with a red bag yesterday, the police chief said at a news conference today.
“They asked her what was in the red bag and I think she just dismissed it because it was a motherly thing,” Drake said, talking of the shooter’s mother. “And didn’t look in the bag because at the time she didn’t know that her daughter had any weapons and didn’t think any differently.”
Drake said that the shooter had been under a doctor’s care for an “emotional disorder” and that police would have stepped in if they had known the 28-year-old posed a danger.
“There’s not a law for that but had it been reported that she was suicidal or that she was going to kill someone and had it been made known to us, then we would’ve tried to, to get those weapons,” he said. “But as it stands, we had absolutely no idea, actually who this person was, if she even existed.”
Nashville victims were ‘randomly targeted,’ police sayThe students who were victims of the school shooting were “randomly targeted,” the police chief said at a news conference today.
“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.”
He said it’s “very possible” that Koonce, the head of the school, confronted the shooter in the hallway by her office.
“I can’t say it was a confrontation but they were met — she met the head person in the hallway,” he said.
Custodian Hill was shot as the attacker sprayed rounds at the door to enter the school, according to Drake.
The shooter had 7 firearms purchased legally, police sayThe shooter had seven firearms that were purchased legally from five different local gun stores, according to police.
Three of these weapons were used in yesterday’s shooting, the police chief said at a news conference today. Drake had said yesterday that two of the weapons used were legally obtained in the Nashville area.
The parents, who felt Hale shouldn’t own weapons due to the 28-year-old’s emotional state, were unaware of the guns the shooter owned.
Parents didn’t want shooter to own guns, police sayThe Nashville shooter’s parents didn’t want the 28-year-old owning guns, the police chief said during a news conference today.
Police interviewed the parents who said the shooter had been under a doctor’s care for an emotional disorder. The parents were under the impression that the shooter didn’t own any weapons after one was sold, but the attacker was reportedly hiding “several weapons within the house.”
“Law enforcement knew nothing about the treatment she was receiving, but her parents felt that she should not own weapons,” Drake said. “They were under the impression when she sold the one weapon that she didn’t own anymore.”
Police still do not have a motive for yesterday’s shooting.
Former teammate says she was unaware shooter was transgender Patton said she recently saw the Nashville shooter at an outing and was unaware that her former teammate was transgender.
“I didn’t know that’s what she considered. Because even when I just seen her last week, it was Audrey, ‘Hey Audrey.’ … So that’s all I can speak for,” Patton told NBC’s “Nightly News.”
According to the police chief, the shooter was transgender. Shortly before yesterday’s shooting, the attacker had messaged Patton and signed it as “Audrey (Aiden).”
There has been conflicting information about the shooter’s gender identity. Drake previously said officials “feel that she identifies as trans, but we’re still in the initial investigation into all of that and if it actually played a role into this incident.”
A former headmaster of The Covenant School said he remembered the shooter as a third- and fourth-grader and used “she/her” pronouns when describing the former student.
“I’ve looked back in my annuals, and I do remember her as a former student,” Bill Campbell said. “She was just one of our young ladies.”
A LinkedIn profile belonging to the shooter used “he/him” pronouns.
Shooter messaged former teammate shortly before rampageA former middle school basketball teammate said the Nashville shooter warned that something bad was about to happen before opening fire yesterday.
Averianna Patton told NBC News she saw the Instagram messages at 9:57 a.m. yesterday, less than 20 minutes before police said they received calls about a shooter at the private Christian school.
In the messages, Hale talked about not wanting to live anymore and said that the shooter’s family did not know what the 28-year-old was about to do.
The shooter was transgender, the police chief said. In the first message sent to Patton, Hale signed it as “Audrey (Aiden).”
Patton tried to be supportive, according to screenshots of the messages. The shooter’s last message said that something bad was about to happen and asked for forgiveness.
Patton, of Nashville, attended Isaiah T. Creswell Middle School with the shooter. She said the messages were alarming and she sent them to her father and asked if she should contact someone.
“He text back, ‘YES’ in all caps. So after that, that’s when I started making calls,” she told NBC’s “Nightly News.”
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Nashville Rep. Andy Ogles defends 2021 Christmas family photo with gunsRep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., was asked about a Christmas photo of his family holding guns that he posted in 2021.
The congressman stood by the photo and said that the school shooting in his district yesterday that killed three children and three adults highlighted a “mental health crisis” facing the country.
Nashville radio host speaks on school shooting: “This that we’re feeling today, somebody else is going to feel it tomorrow”Nashville radio host Bobby Bones expressed his grief over The Covenant School shooting on “The Bobby Bones Show” today.
Bones said that although he covers school shootings about “four or five times a year,” the shooting at The Covenant School, which is near where he lives in Nashville, hit really close to home.
“You know and when it hits close to you, it feels a lot more real than it does when it’s just on the news,” he said. “That’s just real sad. That a safe place wasn’t so safe. That the safest place wasn’t so safe.”
Bones said there have been more than 100 mass shootings in the U.S. this year.
“There have not even been 90 days this year and there have been 129 mass shootings,” he said. “I’d also like to acknowledge that it feels super close to us because it literally was super close to us, but it’s everywhere in the country, it’s super close to somebody. And this that we’re feeling today, somebody else is going to feel it tomorrow, in a different part of the country. Where we’re the only country this happens to. That to me is so bizarre.”
Bones’ co-host, Amy Brown, spoke about picking up her daughter from a high school that serves as a feeder school for the Covenant.
“There’s families that dropped their kids off this morning and it never, I’m assuming, once dawned on them that they wouldn’t be picking them up,” she said.
Brown also said that her son came home from school yesterday and asked if they can make their home bulletproof.
“It’s just hard conversations that are now being had, again,” she said.
Democrats lash out at Republicans for not taking concrete action to address gun violence and school shootingsTop House Democrats today lashed out at their Republican counterparts for not taking legislative action to address gun violence and the spate of school shootings.
At a press conference, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said, “Shame on Speaker McCarthy for not bringing something up” to address gun violence.”
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., vice chair of the caucus, criticized Republicans for postponing a markup today on a resolution to nullify a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives pistol brace rule. He said GOP lawmakers “ran away” and are “hiding,” calling them “cowards.”
The Democrats also voiced concerns as parents of school-age children.
“Every time there’s a shooting, my son cries about going to school because he’s afraid: Is he going to come back?” said Rep. Jennifer McClellan, D-Va., who said that a child in her son’s class accidentally killed himself while using a gun as a prop in a video.
Bodycam footage shows moment police confront and kill Nashville shooterBody camera footage released this morning by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department shows the moment Police Officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo confronted and killed the shooter.
After searching classrooms and an office on the first floor, the officers rush up a stairwell and move down two long hallways before confronting the shooter, who stands under a large window in what appears to be an atrium.
The body camera footage from Engelbert shows him confronting the shooter from a corner diagonally across from the window.
Someone yells, “reloading,” and Engelbert immediately shoots multiple rounds toward the shooter. The shooter is seen collapsing to the ground.
Collazo yells, “move, move,” and he and at least one other officer positioned nearby then move closer to the shooter, with Engelbert following behind.
As they approach the shooter, Collazo warns, “Watch out, watch out.”
Collazo then fires multiple rounds at the shooter before yelling, “Stop moving, stop moving.”
Another officer yells, “Get your hand away from the gun.”
Part of the shooter’s body is blurred on the footage, though it is visible on the ground.
Video shows shooter speaking at a graduation event last yearVideo posted online by the Nossi College of Art and Design in Nashville where the shooter previously studied shows the suspect speaking at a graduation event last year.
The video, posted eight months ago, shows the shooter presenting work at the school’s senior portfolio show last spring.
The shooter appears briefly at the 15-second mark in the less than two-minute-long video, and again at the 50-second mark, saying: “It’s been hard, but it’s also been an amazing experience when it comes to developing my creative talents and growing as an artist.”
In a statement, the college said the shooter “was a talented artist and a good student” while enrolled at the facility.
Nashville mayor: ‘When school children are attacked, that’s our worst day’ Nashville Mayor John Cooper said today he anticipates more details regarding the shooter and any potential motive to come to light.
The mayor denounced gun violence on the “TODAY” show, calling it “the frustration by every city in the country.”
“In Tennessee, guns are essentially ubiquitous. And when guns and mental health issues come into contact with each other, you have big problems, like we saw yesterday and what is our worst day. Nashville’s had challenges before, we’ve had tornadoes and floods, but when school children are attacked in their school, that’s our worst day,” he said.
Cooper called a resurfaced 2021 Christmas photo by Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., which depicts the lawmaker posing in front of a Christmas tree with his family holding guns, “inappropriate.”
“I think the whole country can look at it and shudder a little bit and realize how inappropriate it is. Guns lead to tragedies, and whatever your political feelings are, we should not be celebrating the cult of the gun,” he said.
Hallie, 9, was the daughter of Covenant Presbyterian Church pastorHallie, one of the three students killed yesterday, was the daughter of the lead pastor at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, according to a statement released by the church where he formerly worked.
The Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas said that Hallie is the daughter of its former associate pastor, Chad Scruggs, who is now the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian.
The Covenant School, where yesterday’s mass shooting unfolded, was founded in 2001 as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian and shares the same address as the church.
“We love the Scruggs family and mourn with them over their precious daughter Hallie,” said Mark Davis, Park Cities Presbyterian’s senior pastor.
Covenant Presbyterian is a sister church, according to the Dallas church, which said that at noon local time today, it will host a prayer in honor of its Nashville counterpart, according to its statement.
Floral tributes left outside Covenant PresbyterianA man places flowers at a makeshift memorial near the Covenant Presbyterian in Nashville following yesterday’s deadly shooting.Brendan Smialowski / AFP – Getty ImagesNashville police release surveillance footage showing shooter entering school Nashville police have released surveillance video showing the shooter arriving at the private Christian school before unleashing terror in the attack that left six people, including three children, dead yesterday.
In the edited footage, the shooter, identified by police as Audrey Hale, 28, can be seen driving a Honda Fit to The Covenant School’s campus on Burton Hills Boulevard shortly before 10 a.m., the Nashville Police Department said in a statement accompanying the video’s release yesterday.
Around 10 minutes later, surveillance video from inside the school captures the glass in a set of doors shattering before the shooter, wearing a vest, camouflage pants and a red baseball cap turned backward, climbs through one of the door frames.
Read more here.
Vigil held for victims of school shooting in NashvillePeople gather for a vigil for the three children and three adults who were killed in the mass shooting at The Covenant School yesterday.Seth Herald / Getty ImagesFamilies grieve after deadly shooting as police probe motive Families in a Nashville school community are grieving today after the deadly shooting at The Covenant School left three children and three adults dead.
Police are still working to establish a motive in the deadly shooting, but they said a sense of “resentment” might have played a role in the attack.
The shooter was fatally shot in an encounter with officers during the attack.
Source : NBC News