A former student who shot dead three children and three adults at a Christian elementary school in Nashville in the US had done detailed planning to commit the massacre, police said.
According to Metropolitan Nashville Police chief John Drake, the shooter had drawn a detailed map of the school, including potential entry points, and conducted surveillance before carrying out the killings.
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He did not say exactly what drove the shooter to open fire on Monday morning at The Covenant School before being killed by the police.
But he provided chilling examples of the shooter’s elaborate planning for the targeted attack, the latest in a series of mass shootings in a country that has grown increasingly unnerved by bloodshed in schools.
“We have a manifesto, we have some writings that were going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident,” the police officer told reporters. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”
He said in an interview with NBC News that investigators believe the shooter had some resentment for having to go to that school.
The victims included three nine-year-old children, the school’s top administrator, a substitute teacher and a custodian.
Rachel Dibble, who was at a nearby church where children were taken to be reunited with their parents, said everyone was in complete shock.
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For hours, the police identified the shooter as a 28-year-old woman and eventually identified the person as Audrey Elizabeth Hale. Then it was revealed that Hale was transgender.
Authorities said Hale was armed with two assault-style weapons as well as a handgun. At least two of them were believed to have been obtained legally in the Nashville area.
Police said a search of Hales home turned up a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun and other unspecified evidence.
The victims on the massacre were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all nine years old, and Cynthia Peak, 61. Katherine Koonce, 60. and Mike Hill, 61.
Founded as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, The Covenant School is located in the affluent Green Hills neighbourhood just south of downtown Nashville.
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The school has about 200 students from preschool through sixth grade as well as roughly 50 staff members.
Monday’s massacre unfolded over roughly 14 minutes.
Officers began clearing the first story of the school when they heard gunshots coming from the second level.
Police later said the shooter fired at arriving officers from a second-story window and had come armed with significant ammunition.
Two officers from a five-member team opened fire in response, killing the suspect.
President Joe Biden, speaking at the White House on Monday, called the shooting a family’s worst nightmare and implored Congress again to pass a ban on certain semi-automatic weapons.
(With agency inputs)