Nashville school shooter hid guns from parents in family home

Nashville school shooter hid guns from parents in family home

A former Christian school student who returned with assault rifles to kill three children and three adults had been stashing guns at her parent’s home.

Shooter Audrey Hale, 28, legally purchased seven weapons from five gun shops and later sold one of them, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said.

Three of them were used in Monday’s shooting. Police spokesperson Brooke Reese said Hale bought the guns between October 2020 and June 2022.

Hale’s parents believed their child had sold one gun and did not own any others, Drake said, adding that Hale “had been hiding several weapons within the house.”

 (Metropolitan Nashville Police De)
(Metropolitan Nashville Police De)

“Her parents felt like that she should not own weapons. They were under the impression that when she sold the one weapon, that she did not own any more,” Drake told reporters. “As it turned out, she had been hiding several weapons within the house.”

While Hale was walking out of the family’s home Monday, Hale’s parents asked about a conspicuous bag their adult child was carrying.

“We know yesterday, Ms Hale was leaving out of the residence. She had a red bag,” Drake said. “They asked her what was in the red bag, and I think she just dismissed it because it was a motherly thing. And (the mother) didn’t look in the bag because at the time she didn’t know her daughter had any weapons and didn’t think any differently.”

Hale had been under a doctor’s care for an undisclosed “emotional disorder,” he said.

Police could have sought to take those weapons had officers learned Hale was a threat to others, according to the chief.

“Had it been reported that she was suicidal or that she was going to kill someone and that had been made known to us, then we would have tried to get those weapons,” Drake said. “But as it stands, we had absolutely no idea of actually who this person was, if she even existed.”

The shooter had drawn a detailed map of the school, including potential entry points, and conducted surveillance of the building before carrying out the shooting, authorities said.

Hale did not target specific victims — among them three 9-year-olds and the head of the school — but did target “this school, this church building,” police spokesperson Don Aaron said at a news conference Tuesday.

The victims have been identified as nine-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney and Cynthia Peak, a substitute teacher, aged 61; Katherine Koonce the school’s headteacher, aged 60; and Mike Hill, a custodian, aged 61.

Investigators said they were examining a “manifesto” written by the shooter, a 28-year-old ex-pupil of the school, hoping to learn the motivation behind the US’s latest mass shooting.

At a late afternoon press conference, the police chief said Hale was transgender. After the news conference, police spokesperson Don Aaron declined to elaborate on how Hale identified.

In an email on Tuesday, police spokesperson Kristin Mumford said Hale “was assigned female at birth. Hale did use male pronouns on a social media profile”.

The shooting is the 90th school shooting - defined as any incident in which a gun is discharged on school property - according to researchers at the K-12 School Shooting Database.

Last year saw 303 school shootings, the highest of any year in the database, which goes back to 1970.

On Tuesday, the White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said that President Joe Biden has already taken multiple gun-related actions by executive order but called upon lawmakers to pass a ban on assault weapons.

“We need Republicans in Congress to show some courage,” she told MSNBC in an interview. “Enough, enough, enough.”