What We Know About the Covenant School Shooting Victims and Attacker

What We Know About the Covenant School Shooting Victims and Attacker

More details about the Tennessee-based Covenant Presbyterian school shooter who took the lives of six people on Monday and her victims have come to light.

The shooter has been identified as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, who attended the private school as a child. Hale, who was killed by officers during the attack, reportedly recently came out as transgender and began identifying as a male.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said that Hale drove to the school with three guns, two of which police said were "assault-type weapons." Hale shot her way through the side doors of the school building and began firing shots inside the school.

Among those killed were Mike Hill, the school's 61-year-old custodian; Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; and Katherine Koonce, 60, who worked as the school's headmistress.

Three children, all aged 9, were also shot and killed: Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs.

Parents told reporters that Koonce "knew every single student by name."

"She did so much for those kids," a mother of two children enrolled at Covenant told BBC. "And now gave her life protecting them."

On Hill, the school's custodian, Pastor Tim Dunavant, who hired Hill 13 years ago, said Hill likely "saved lives."

"I have nothing factual to base that upon. I just know what kind of guy he was. And I know he's the kind of guy that would do that," Dunavant wrote in a Facebook post. "Goodbye Mike, I'm going to miss those encouraging texts out of the blue from you."

The other adult killed in the attack, Cynthia Peak, was a longtime substitute teacher. She is survived by her husband, daughter and two sons.

According to The Christian Post, nine-year-old Scruggs was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church. 

"We are heartbroken. She was such a gift. Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again," Chad said of his daughter.

At a vigil for third-grader Evelyn Dieckhaus at Woodmont Christian Church, the church's Senior minister noted that Dieckhaus has an older sister in the fifth grade.

Her family said in a statement: "We cannot believe this has happened. Evelyn was a shining light in this world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve."

Hale's website notes that Hale was an illustrator and graphic designer, creating logos for businesses.

My illustrations usually bring a whimsical and light-hearted feel," Hale wrote. "Aside from art, I enjoy binging on video games, watching movies, and playing sports. There is a child-like part about me that loves to go run to the playground. Animals are my second passion, so I also enjoy spending time with my two cats."

The Daily Beast reported that a family friend said Hale was autistic but "high-functioning" and had only recently come out as transgender.

Police say Hale also sent a suicide note to a friend just before the shooting, but the friend, Averianna Patton, could not comfort her. Patton said she called the Suicide Prevention Help Line and Nashville Davidson County Sheriff's Office. When she finally called Nashville's non-emergency line, it was too late.

"My heart is with all of the families affected, and I'm devastated by what has happened," Patton said.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Seth Herald/Stringer


Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.