Nashville Police Say School Shooter Was Transgender

Police at Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn.
Police at Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn.

Police have identified the shooter who killed three children and three adults at a Nashville school on Monday.

Authorities say the Covenant School shooter was Audrey Hale, 28, a former student who had planned the attack using maps and surveillance, NBC News reports. The shooter also left behind a “manifesto.” NBC News also reports that the shooter was transgender.

Other outlets have reported that the shooter used he/him pronouns. Several outlets seem to have mistakenly identified Hale as a transgender woman. Others continue to describe Hale as female.

Kristin Mumford, a police spokeswoman, told The New York Times that the shooter had listed male pronouns on a LinkedIn profile. That profile, the Times reports, has been active recently.

“We have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident,” Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said at a press conference following the shooting at the Christian school. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”

The chief said Hale didn’t have a criminal record.

Drake said that they have a theory about the motive in the shooting that they might be able to speak about later. When asked by a reporter if the shooter’s trans identity played a part, Drake said “there is some theory to that.”

The police chief said Hale was armed with two AR-style guns and a handgun. Two of the weapons were purchased legally in Nashville.

Hale was killed after being shot by police who confronted him.

The six victims are Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all 9, along with 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce, and 61-year-old Mike Hill.

The investigation is ongoing.

Right-wing pundits and politicians have seized the shooter’s transgender identity to espouse transphobia.

The LGBTQ+ rights group the Human Rights Campaign wrote that stronger gun laws are needed to protect communities. The organization also cautioned about focusing on the shooter’s reported trans identity.

“We still don’t know all of the facts about what happened in Nashville. We do know that every study available shows that transgender and nonbinary people are much more likely to be the victims of violence, rather than the perpetrator of it,” the organization said in a statement posted to Twitter. “Regardless of the reason for this shooting, the use of violence is reprehensible and we renew our call for common-sense gun safety legislation.”

Also, the Trans Journalists Association cautions, "The TJA's guidance is to not assume someone is cisgender or transgender based on their appearance, gender presentation, or pronouns. Police reports, public documents, or statements from family members can likewise incorrectly identify a person's gender. Even social media profiles can be misleading, outdated or incomplete.

"We urge newsrooms to refrain from speculating without further facts. It is additionally important to keep in mind that sharing partial, un-fact-checked, or contextless information and public records during breaking news events can have outsized consequences for members of marginalized communities."

Monday’s shooting in Nashville is the 129th mass shooting in the U.S. so far in 2023, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.