1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Nashville school shooting leaves 3 children, 3 adults dead

March 28, 2023

A shooter wielding "assault-style" rifles and a pistol killed six people at an elementary school in the southern US state of Tennessee. The White House called on lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws after the tragedy.

Children from the Covenant School in Nashville were escorted away by police
Children from the Covenant School in Nashville were escorted away by policeImage: Jonathan Mattise/AP/picture alliance

A 28-year-old who fatally shot three children and three adults at a private school in the US city of Nashville had legally bought seven firearms in recent years, police said on Tuesday.

The assailant hid the guns from their parents, police added. The school shooter was armed with at least two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun and was shot by police, Don Aaron, a spokesperson for Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, said.

Police said the shooter was killed. Besides the deceased, no one else was shot, Aaron added.

Police release videos of the shooting

Police released videos of the shooting, including edited surveillance footage that shows the shooter's car driving up to the school, glass doors being shot out and the shooter ducking through one of them.

Body camera footage shows the moment Officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo confronted the shooter at The Covenant School too.

Video from Rex Engelbert's bodycam shows a woman greeting police outside as the arrive at the campus on Monday. "The kids are all locked down, but we have two kids that we don't know where they are," she tells police.

"OK, yes, ma'am," Engelbert replies. The woman then directs officers to Fellowship Hall and says people inside had just heard gunshots. "Upstairs are a bunch of kids," she says.

Let's go, let's go," one officer yells. As alarms are heard going off in the school, one officer says, "It sounds like it's upstairs." Officers climb stairs to the second floor and enter a lobby area.

Shooter had detailed map of school

Police received the first call about an active shooter at 10:13 a.m (15:13 UTC) local time. Officers began clearing the first floor of the school when they heard gunfire from the second floor, Aaron said.

Two officers from a five-man team then opened fire and fatally shot the suspect at 10:27 a.m.

Authorities said the suspect was a former student of the school and had drawn up a detailed map of the campus, indicating possible entry points.

"We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we're going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident," Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said on Monday afternoon.

In an interview with NBC News, Drake also said the manifesto "indicates that there was going to be shootings at multiple locations, and the school was one of them."

Police officers respond to a a shooting at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee
The shooting took place at a Presbyterian school which has about 200 students and 50 staff members Image: Kevin Wurm/REUTERS

About 200 students from preschool through sixth grade attend the Covenant School, a Presbyterian school founded in 2001.

Aaron said that since the school is a church-run school, no police officers were present or assigned to the school at the time of the shooting.

Tragic morning for Nashville

During a media briefing, Nashville police said that the three children who were killed were all aged nine. Three adult staff members were also killed by the shooter.

Three students were pronounced dead after arriving at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt with gunshot wounds, John Howser, a hospital spokesperson, said in a statement.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

"In a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded, long list of communities to experience a school shooting," he wrote on Twitter.

Nashville's police chief added: "I was literally moved to tears to see this and the kids as they were being ushered out of the building."

Biden urges Congress to act

US President Joe Biden wants Congress to do more to stem gun violence, the White House said in response to the tragedy.

He has repeatedly called for stricter gun laws and has tightened regulations slightly in the past.

US President Joe Biden speaks about the shooting from the East Room of the White House
US President Joe Biden decried the shooting and said gun violence is "ripping our communities apart"Image: Alex Brandon/AP/picture alliance

"How many more children have to be murdered, before Republicans in Congress will step up and act to pass the assault weapons ban," Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre asked.

The president said the shooting is a "family's worst nightmare."

There have been 89 school shootings in the US so far in 2023, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database.

They classify a school shooting as any time a gun is discharged on school property.

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

Editor's note from March 28, 2023: The gender identity of the 28-year-old shooter is unclear. Local authorities referred to the suspect as a "female shooter" who was transgender. Several US media outlets, however, have reported that the suspect used male pronouns on social media profiles.

zc, lo/jcg (AFP, AP, Reuters)