Police identified the Nashville shooting suspect who killed 6 people at Covenant School. Mass shooters are almost always cisgender men, experts say.

  • Police identified the shooter who killed three students and three adult staff members at a Nashville school Monday.

  • The female suspect was shot and killed by police following the attack at The Covenant School.

  • According to the Violence Project, 98% of all mass shooters are men.

A 28-year-old assailant opened fire at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday, killing three elementary school students and three adult staff members, according to police.

Police said they received a call about the shooting at 10:13 a.m. local time. The suspect, who has been identified as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, was shot and killed by police at 10:27 a.m., police said.

After initially describing the attacker as a woman, the police said later that Hale was transgender. But on Monday, a police spokesperson walked back that determination, saying investigators hadn't learned the shooter's gender identity and that the term "transgender" may have been used "prematurely."

Social media accounts that appear to be the shooter's used he/him pronouns and a male name was written on one of the guns found at the shooting scene.

Guidance from the Trans Journalists Association encourages reporters not to make assumptions about a person's gender identity or presentation.

Victims included three 9-year-olds, identified by police as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney. Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61, were also killed, according to Nashville police.

The school's website listed Koonce as the Head of School at Covenant.

The suspect was armed with three weapons at the time of the shooting, including two "assault-style" weapons and one handgun, police said.

A motive for the shooting has not been given, but Nashville police said they searched the Honda Fit the suspect drove to the school prior to the shooting and found written materials inside. John Drake, the Nashville police chief, said the suspect had a "manifesto" and detailed maps of the school.

While the suspect falls just over the average age range of mass shooters, it is incredibly rare for a mass shooter not to be a cisgender man, according to the Violence Project's mass shooter database.

Dr. Jillian Peterson, a researcher at Hamline University who runs the Violence Project and has compiled a database of every US mass shooting since 1966, previously told Insider that often, mass shootings are carried out by men between the ages of 18 and 25.

According to the FBI, in 2021, the vast majority of mass shooters that year fell between 19 and 34 years old.

The Violence Project database, which has not yet been updated to reflect Monday's mass shooting, reported that 98% of mass public shooters are men.

Of the 191 mass shooters cataloged in the database, only four were women, and two of those four women partnered with a man in the shooting.

"The shooting today is a stark reminder that mass shootings are not exclusive to men," a statement from the Violence Project shared with Insider said.

In 2021, of the 61 mass shooters recorded by the FBI, only one was female.

The FBI's data says that 83% of mass shooters in 2020 and 98% of mass shooters in 2021 were men. In 2020, of the 42 mass shooters, 35 were men.

When looking just at K-12 mass school shootings compiled in the Violence Project database, "perpetrators were 100% male," making Monday's shooting the first mass school shooting carried out by a woman, according to the Violence Project.

Most of those school shooters were current or former students of the school they targeted, according to the Violence Project.

Police said Monday that the shooting suspect was "at one point a student of that school."

According to the Violence Project, men are responsible for more than 90% of worldwide homicides because of a "host of biological, social, economic, and cultural factors, including societal expectations and gender roles."

But in terms of mass shootings, suspects sometimes carry out "copycat shootings," or when perpetrators see themselves in and relate to former mass shooters. The statement from the Violence Project adds that 64% of mass school shooters showed interest in or studied previous mass shootings before carrying out their attacks.

Additionally, "mass shootings are driven by despair and they are a form of suicide," according to the Violence Project, which adds that this case is not an exception because the mass shooter died at the scene. According to their database, 92% of mass school shooters were suicidal before they committed a shooting.

"Perpetrators often pick a target that represents their grievance, and they want to communicate their anger to the world with a final act of horrific violence," according to the Violence Project statement.

While a motive for this attack has not been announced, according to the Violence Project, 73% of mass school shooters had a history of childhood trauma and 85% showed signs of a crisis leading up to the shooting.

Mark Bryant, Executive Director of Gun Violence Archive, told Insider men are more often responsible for mass shootings than women are because they turn to guns as a tool more easily than women do.

"Guys, in general, from the time they were three or five have played with guns and so there's more of a straight-up use of guns as a tool," Bryant said. "When it comes time, guys are more fascinated by guns than girls tend to be."


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