BREAKING: Seven dead after Covenant School shooting in Green Hills

Three students, three staff members and the 28-year-old shooter — who was a former student at the school — were killed.


Laura Vaughan

Vanderbilt University Medical Center , captured on November 8, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Laura Vaughan)

This article was last updated at 11:55 p.m. CDT on March 28, 2023.

Three students, three staff members and the shooter are dead after a shooting at The Covenant School in the Green Hills neighborhood at 10:13 a.m. CDT today. The school is within 4 miles of Vanderbilt.

Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs — all age 9 — were killed, as well as Head of School Katherine Koonce (BS ’85), 60; custodian Mike Hill, 61; and substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61. Scruggs was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, lead pastor at the Covenant Presbyterian Church. MNPD said on March 28 that victims of the shooting were not specifically targeted.

MNPD Chief John Drake said in a 4 p.m. CDT press conference that the 28-year-old white shooter, Audrey Hale, is a Nashville resident, was a former student of the school and identified as a transgender man. Drake added that a manifesto and plan for the shooting, including annotated maps of Covenant, were found. Drake also said writings by Hale show that another site was considered but not chosen due to high security. MNPD added that Hale was being treated for mental health before the incident. 

Averianna Patton, a childhood friend of Hale, reported receiving a message from Hale at 9:57 a.m. CDT stating that Hale was going to die by suicide and “something bad” was going to happen soon. Patton called the police at 10:13 a.m. CDT, the same time the shooting began. She was directed to the non-emergency police hotline at 10:14 a.m. CDT and was on hold until 10:21 a.m. CDT. An officer was not sent to help Patton until 3:29 p.m. CDT. 

MNPD reported that two officers out of a five-person team killed Hale within 14 minutes of receiving the active shooter report — 10:27 a.m. CDT. MNPD Public Affairs Director Don Aaron said the only injury was to an MNPD officer as a result of broken glass. 

A university representative said in an 11:26 a.m. CDT email to The Hustler that the university is not going on lockdown due to the situation being inactive and Hale being dead. An AlertVU message was not sent to the community regarding the shooting.

Aaron said Hale entered the building by shooting through a side door on the first floor. Hale was armed with at least two AR-style rifles and a handgun, two of which were obtained legally. A sawed-off shotgun and another shotgun were later found at Hale’s home by MNPD. Hale moved from the first to the second floor, firing multiple shots in a lobby-type area. Hannah McDonald reported on NewsChannel5 Nashville that her mother-in-law works at the front desk of the school, which is situated “sideways,” and was taking a break when the shooting occurred. 

About 209 PreK-6th grade students attend and 42 staff members work at The Covenant School. Because the school is privately run by the Presbyterian church, no MNPD officers are assigned to the school as there can be for public middle and high schools in Nashville. According to a July 28, 2022, WKRN article, public elementary schools are being added to this plan in the future.

While the scene was active, the Metro Nashville Fire Department directed parents of The Covenant School students to meet at 20 Burton Hills, the location of the Shearwater Health Medical Center, while the scene was active. At 10:54 a.m. CDT, MNPD changed the location of student reunification with parents to Woodmont Baptist Church at 2100 Woodmont Blvd. NBC reported that students are being bused to the church and streets are closed to expedite their travel. 

This incident marks the 128th mass shooting in the U.S. this year according to the Gun Violence Archive. It is the deadliest school shooting since the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in May 2022.

A Metro Nashville parent, who is being kept anonymous for privacy, stated that Hillsboro High School was on lockdown as of 11:22 a.m. CDT. Some WeGo bus routes have also been delayed, according to an 11:09 a.m. CDT email from Eric Melcher, WeGo Public Information Officer.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.