Nashville school shooting updates: Gov. Lee proposing new school safety measures

As a public service, The Tennessean has made this content free.

Recap: Three children and three adult staff members were killed Monday at Covenant School in one of Tennessee's deadliest school shootings. Audrey Hale, 28, entered the school at about 10:11 a.m. armed with a rifle. Officers who responded to the scene killed Hale about 14 minutes later. Video footage shows a timeline from when Hale first got to the school until police fired the fatal shots.

911 calls from inside the school released Thursday by Metro police give more details as to the timeline of the shooting, as do a pair of officer radio clips released by police.

Funerals for the victims of the shooting are being scheduled. Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, will be laid to rest by family and friends at 3 p.m. Friday in the Covenant Presbyterian sanctuary. Overflow for the services will be in Carpenter Chapel and the Gathering Hall. A celebration of life will be held for Cynthia Peak, 61, at noon on Saturday at Christ Presbyterian Church. The family of Hallie Scruggs will have a private funeral service on Saturday at Covenant Presbyterian Church. Other arrangements are pending.

FROM THURSDAY: Covenant School employee said staff members carried guns

Follow along here for live updates as we learn more about Monday's shooting.

Metro Nashville Public Schools applaud bus drivers who helped evacuate Covenant students

Metro Nashville Public Schools on Friday commended a group of school bus drivers who evacuated students from The Covenant School after police cleared the campus Monday morning.

The drivers safely transported the children to their parents, who waited at Woodmont Baptist Church.

MNPS commended drivers with a thread of Twitter posts, noting that MNPS bus drivers have a history of helping the larger community when called upon.

"In recent history, MNPS bus drivers have evacuated Nashvillians during flood, fire and the 2020 bombing downtown," the post said. "At the height of the pandemic, the big yellow school buses delivered school supplies, academic materials and food directly into neighborhoods."

MNPS also published a list of the 15 drivers who assisted with Monday's evacuation, including Tracy Garton, a 19-year veteran of Metro schools.

"I want everybody to know that in times of need, good or bad, the Metro School bus drivers will always be there," Garton said.

THP says no arrests, property damage during Thursday's peaceful protest in State Capitol

Two Democratic state lawmakers on Friday criticized House Republican leadership's comparisons of Thursday's peaceful State Capitol protest over gun violence to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection in Washington, D.C.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, and other House Republicans have taken to the airwaves and social media to compare the event to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, which left several police officers injured and resulted in millions of dollars of damage.

But the Tennessee Highway Patrol said Friday the protest at the State Capitol on Thursday was peaceful, with no property damage or arrests. Democratic lawmakers noted as much and blasted Republicans for mischaracterizing the Tennessee residents who came to the Capitol.

"It was a loud demonstration but resolved peacefully," said Lt. Bill Miller, THP public information officer. "It was resolved with no arrests and no damaged property."

There is a planned student walk-out rally at the State Capitol planned for Monday morning.

Read more about what both state Democrats and Republicans had to say here.

Gov. Bill Lee pushes for school safety measures, open to some gun reform

Gov. Bill Lee will propose next week to spend millions of dollars on new, stronger school safety measures in the wake of Monday's shooting, he said in an interview with The Tennessean on Friday.

The governor's plan, which requires legislative approval, would expand a proposal to place an armed guard at every public school in the state and provide grant funding for private schools to do the same.

"We have an obligation, I have an obligation, to do what I can and work together with leaders across this community to address people's concerns and to protect our kids in whatever way we can."

Lee did not specifically commit to red flag laws that would allow authorities to pursue a civil legal order to take away firearms for a period of time if someone is found to be an elevated risk to themselves or others. But he did acknowledge that something needed to change.

"Most practical, thoughtful people believe that individuals who are a threat to themselves or to others shouldn’t have access to weapons," Lee said. "In my view, that’s a practical, thoughtful approach."

Read more of what Lee had to say here.

A detailed look of the chaos inside Covenant School during Monday's shooting

FROM THIS STORY: 15 minutes of terror: How the Covenant School shooting and Nashville police response unfolded

The killer carried a red bag.

On the morning of March 27, the person who police would later identify as Audrey Hale, 28, was almost out the door on an otherwise sunny day when Hale's mother asked what was in the bag.

Hale's parents, Norma and Ronald, had to be concerned. Hale had been under a doctor's care for what police would later call an undisclosed "emotional disorder."

The Hales would later tell police they had no idea seven guns were hidden in the house or that three of them would make it to the car that morning. They told police they didn't believe Hale should have access to a gun.

Ignoring the question about the bag, Hale was off to kill school children.

Hale walked out of the brick, Tudor-style house on Brightwood Drive in Nashville's Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood and put the red bag in the car.

Hale didn't plan on coming home.

Read more of The Tennessean's detailed inside look pf what took place before, during and after Monday's shooting here.

Former Tennessee governors pen column about taking small steps toward gun reform

Former Tennessee Governors Bill Haslam and Phil Bredesen wrote a guest column published Friday on The Tennessean's website urging both political parties to avoid "hopeless disagreement" and to start making small steps toward gun reform in response to Monday's shooting and the overall number of mass shootings in the United States.

"Democrats take it as an article of faith that an assault weapon ban is the only sane response. Republicans believe deeply in the importance of preserving the right of people to possess firearms," the two former governors wrote. "It becomes quickly clear that there is hopeless disagreement on strategies surrounding assault rifles."

"... Perhaps we could begin by simply agreeing that we do have a problem. There is no other developed nation in the world that has anywhere near the mass shootings we do. The assault rifle issues are at an impossible impasse, but if we disengage there for now and turn our attention instead to smaller steps, doable and still useful, there are possibilities."

The two governors then called for lawmakers to consider red flag laws and personal responsibility laws as the first steps toward reform.

Read Govs. Haslam and Bredesen's column here.

Student walk-out planned across Nashville Monday; MNPS encourages 'walk-in' rallies

Students across Nashville will be walking out of classrooms on Monday, April 3 and marching to the State Capitol as part of a demonstration in support of tightening gun legislation following the March 27 mass shooting at The Covenant School.

According to a press release from activist organization March For Our Lives, the walkout will be hosted to “demand action against gun violence,” and specifically to “demand an assault weapon ban and extreme risk protection orders.”

“Precisely one week after the shooting at The Covenant School, youth from colleges and schools throughout Nashville will walk out of their classrooms and into the streets with the clear message: Stop fighting culture wars and start regulating weapons of war,” the statement said.

Students will walk out of classrooms at 10:13 a.m., in reflection of the first 911 call came into the Metro Nashville Police Department about the Covenant School shooting on March 27. Speakers for the event, who will be rallying students from 10:30 a.m. to noon at 600 Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Blvd, include:

  • Ezri Tyler, national organizer at March For Our Lives, Vanderbilt University student

  • Brynn Jones, legal associate at March For Our Lives, Vanderbilt University student

  • Manuel Oliver, father of Parkland victim and founder of Change the Ref

  • Daniel Wrocherinsky, Dores Workers Solidarity Network

  • Jim Shulman, Nashville vice mayor

  • Induja Kumar, Vanderbilt University student, and activist

  • Students Demand Action

  • Students and young people from across Nashville

Adrienne Battle, Metro Nashville Public Schools' director of schools, said in a letter that students and staff are encouraged to do "walk-in" rallies in lieu of walking to the State Capitol on Monday morning.

In a separate release, Metro schools said that students who leave school to walk to the State Capitol will be in violation of the district's code of conduct.

"While some organizations have encouraged students to continue to walk out of school and walk to the Capitol, this constitutes a significant safety concern for students, is a violation of the MNPS Code of Conduct," the release said, "and presents an equity issue for students throughout Davidson County to be able to join their peers in participating in an action in support of change. We ask that parents encourage their students to remain in school and join the walk-in rallies."

Nashville shooting sheds light on how to handle suicide threats

As a school shooting unfolded in Nashville on Monday morning, Averianna Patton was attempting to call authorities for a welfare check on a former middle school classmate.

"I received a very, very weird message from a friend on Instagram. I think it's like a suicidal thing," Patton told a Nashville Emergency Communications dispatcher. "I called the Suicide Hotline, and they told me to call the Sheriff's Department, the Sheriff's Department told me to call you guys. I'm just trying to see — I just don't want it on my conscience — if somebody can go check on her."

Those messages came from Audrey Hale, identified by police as the 28-year-old who fatally shot three 9-year-old students and three adult staff members at the Covenant School Monday morning.

Shortly after the end of Patton's 4-minute conversation with the dispatcher, Hale was dead, fatally shot by two Nashville police officers.

If the call had gone directly to 911 instead of Nashville's non-emergency line, or the dispatcher had handled it differently, it's not likely the outcome would have changed.

Nashville Emergency Communications Director Stephen Martini said the dispatcher followed typical protocol by attempting to dispatch an officer to Patton to find more information.

Here is what we know about how emergency dispatchers handle suicide threats.

Nashville Predators, Nashville SC continue to honor shooting victims

The city and state's sports teams continue to honor the victims of Monday's shooting.

The Nashville Predators tweeted Thursday that the team will wear jersey patches honoring those affected during Saturday's home game against the St. Louis Blues. It'll be the team's first home game since the shooting occurred. Coaches from the Predators and Penguins wore a red and white ribbon honoring The Covenant School during Thursday's game in Pittsburgh.

Nashville SC said Thursday that the team will wear black armbands during Saturday's game "to honor the lives lost" in Monday's shooting. The club plays at Orlando City, with a 6:30 p.m. scheduled kickoff.

Tennessee baseball players wore Covenant School helmet stickers during Thursday's game at LSU, the first of a three-game set.

'IT MAKES NO SENSE': What Nashville SC's Gary Smith said after Nashville school shooting

The Frist Art Museum extending free admission

The Frist Art Museum, the art exhibition hall in Nashville that is housed in the city's historic U.S. Post Office at 919 Broadway, is offering free admission through the remainder of Friday, March 31, as the museum “continues to grieve the tragic loss of life at the Covenant School on Monday” according to a statement released on their website.

“Our community has faced many challenges together, and it is our privilege to offer the museum as a place of solace,” the statement said. “In that spirit of community, on Thursday, March 30, and Friday, March 31, admission to the Frist will be free for all. Whether you need to gather with loved ones or visit alone, we hope the museum can provide some respite.”

Rep. Andy Ogles files legislation to honor MNPD officers with Congressional Gold Medal

Andy Ogles, representative for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional district, which includes The Covenant School, filed legislation Thursday to honor Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo with a Congressional Gold Medal “for their heroic efforts during the heartbreaking shooting at the Covenant School” on March 27.

Within ten minutes of the first 911 call made from the school, at least five officers, including Engelbert and Collazo, made their way through classrooms inside the building. Four minutes after that, it was over. Officers fatally shot suspect Audrey Hale in a lobby on the second floor.

“In the face of danger, Officers Engelbert and Collazo ran headfirst without hesitation. Their heroic actions were exemplary and selfless,” said Ogles. “Such bravery and valor deserve honor, which is why I have introduced the Covenant School Heroes Congressional Gold Medal Act. Officer Engelbert and Officer Collazo, thank you for your dedication to protecting your community from evil actors.

“The community of the Covenant School in Nashville will never be the same. The losses of Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, Dr. Katherine Koonce, Mark Hill, and Cynthia Peak will be felt for the rest of our earthly lives.”

Caring For Covenant fund continues to raise support for families, school

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee established the Caring for Covenant Fund to manage donations to the school "because of the outpouring of love from our generous and thoughtful community," CEO Hal Cato said in a Monday afternoon statement.

As of Friday morning, the fund has raised a total of $519,509.20 from more than 3,000 donations.

Donations can be made at

All donations made to the fund, minus credit card fees, will go to the Covenant School "to support the healing of those affected by this tragedy," according to the foundation.

"Together, we will send a message of love and compassion to the entire Covenant community," the fund's statement said.

More 911 calls unveil frightening scene inside Covenant School during shooting

Nashville police released more 911 calls on Thursday evening from inside of The Covenant School during Monday's shooting.

During one call, made at 10:13 a.m., a woman in an art room closet inside the school spoke at a whisper. She softly told the students around her to be quiet.

"I want to go home," a child whimpered in the background.

Later in the call, the woman said she heard more gunshots ringing out. "Please hurry," she said.

Another came from a woman inside a the nursery in the building. The woman said that an employee or two may be carrying weapons, but the school did not have security staff.

Metro police initially provided three calls to 911 on Thursday afternoon, then released 21 more after 6 p.m. Thursday along with two police officer radio clips.

911 CALLS: 'I want to go home': Nashville shooting 911 calls capture terror inside Covenant School

More about the 3 children killed in Monday's shooting

The Tennessean is learning more about the three children killed in Monday's shooting.

Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, was a third-grade student at Covenant School who was a "constant beacon of joy," her family described. "After all, Evelyn had a servant’s heart and an earnest love for the Lord," her obituary noted. "Her faith was pure and her prayers were sincere."

Hallie Scruggs, 9, was the only daughter of Chad and Jada Scruggs. Chad Scruggs, senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, called his daughter "a gift."

"Through tears," Chad Scruggs said Monday after the shooting, "we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again."

William Kinney, 9, was looking ahead to the spring baseball season, when he was going to play for the Crieve Hall Reds. Family friend Rachel Freitas wrote on a GoFundMe page that Kinney had an "unflappable spirit."

"He was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others," Freitas wrote.

Read more about the three children below.

REMEMBERING HALLIE SCRUGGS: Family of 9-year-old Hallie Scruggs mourns their loss: 'We are heartbroken'

HONORING EVELYN DIECKHAUS: Covenant school student Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, was 'a shining light in this world'

REMEMBERING WILLIAM KINNEY: Covenant student William Kinney was 'unfailingly kind' and 'knew no strangers'

Who were the victims of The Covenant School shooting?

Police identified the victims of the shooting on Monday afternoon as:

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville school shooting news: Gov. Lee proposes new school safety measures