Covenant School: March 27, 2023


A school attack occurred Monday 27 March 2023 at Covenant School, Nashville, Tennessee.

I’d like to extend my prayers as well as deepest sympathy to the families of those who have lost a loved one and to the innocent lives broken by this terrible act of violence.

I’d also like to personally thank the police officers, EMS, and others who rushed to stop the attacker and to help the victims. Their fast and brave response appears to have saved lives.

What we know:

  1. Audrey Hale, 28-year-old Nashville resident, attacked Covenant School on 27 March 2023.
  2. Hale entered the school parking lot at 9:53 am.
  3. Hale was armed with at least 3 weapons (2 rifles and 1 pistol).
  4. Wearing a tactical vest full of ammunition and a second rifle slung over a shoulder, Hale used a rifle to shoot out the glass from a side door. Ducking under the push bar, Hale entered the building at 10:10 am.
  5. Once inside the building, Hale murdered six people (3 students and 3 staff members).

    Evelyn Dieckhaus (9)
    Hallie Scruggs (9)
    William Kinney (9)
    Cynthia Peak (61 – Substitute)
    Katherine Koonce (60 – Principal/Head of the School)
    Mike Hill (61 – Custodian)

  6. The school appears to have taken life-saving measures prior to law enforcement arrival. From school video surveillance cameras, a strobe light was activated as well as a staff member is seen on police officer Rex Engelbert’s body cam stating, “We’re in a lockdown.” Also, the fire alarm can be heard in the background.

    To view school video cameras and body cam, please follow this link.

  7. Law enforcement received a call for assistance at 10:13 am.
  8. Officers arrived within minutes and were fired upon by Hale who shot at law enforcement through a large glass window from the second floor. 
  9. Hale struck at least one police cruiser in the windshield, injuring one officer with broken glass. 
  10. Officers rushed inside the building and could hear firing on the second floor.
  11. A five-member team ran to the second floor and engaged Hale.
  12. Hale was shot and killed at 10:27 in the second-floor lobby.
  13. According to police, Hale was a prior student, had a detailed map of the school, had conducted surveillance of the school, and the attack was “calculated and planned.” 
  14. Families were reunited with their children by 4:00. 
  15. Covenant School is a PK-6 private Christian school with approximately 200 students and 50 staff members.

As you continue to implement school safety initiatives, please consider these points.

  1. No one was killed at Covenant School. They were murdered. For litigious reasons the media will say, “Killed” but that does not do justice to those who lost their lives or the families who lost their loved one.

    Those poor people were murdered and murder is the greatest injustice known to the world. They were murdered.
  2. If possible, cover your exterior doors with protective tape. It may not deny entry but it will absolutely delay entry into the building and therefore provide your school a few precious seconds more to initiate a lockdown as well as afford law enforcement more time to respond.

    Every saved second saves lives.
  3. It took Hale approximately 15 seconds to enter the building. As you practice your lockdowns it is vital that you stress to your staff the necessity of speeding up your lockdowns to 7 seconds or less by perfecting their ability to 1) immediately run to the door, 2) close their door (it must already be locked), and 3) get away from the door.

    Teachers may not be able to stop a person from entering their school but if they perfect these 3 critical steps they will stop the attacker from getting into their classroom. Nothing is more important than locking out the threat.
  4. Hale was on the property for 17 minutes before the attack started. 17 minutes!

    Remind your staff members that anything they can see falls under their area of responsibility and protection. It’s not that they have to stare at it, but just every now and then glance towards whatever they can see outside.

    Every threat must enter the building. In plain view, Hale walked towards the door wearing a tactical vest and carrying two rifles. In fact, for 17 minutes someone could have seen Hale...
  5. Currently, every school is in one of the three stages of preventing and surviving violence.
    Stage 1: Prevention Time.
    Stage 2: Crisis Time.
    Stage 3: Victim Time.

    For the vast majority of schools, they will gratefully forever remain in stage 1. Covenant School was thrust into Crisis Time. Any school that suffers a crisis is automatically propelled into stage 3.

    Covenant School is in Victim Time.

    I know that preventing violence and being proactive is difficult, drains energy, and taps into resources. Sometimes, it can even feel like a massive and pointless sacrifice.

    If you ever feel this way, if you ever get tired, if the pushback becomes just a little too much, remind yourself that it’s far better to be in the difficulties of Prevention Time than in the sorrows of Victim Time.

    Both can last a lifetime.

    One will try your patience and the other will try your soul. Don’t ever give up. Stay proactive. Keep preventing violence.

Last point—it is very normal for staff members, students, and parents to be more anxious and concerned. Especially for those in areas that have recently suffered severe trauma.

To be sad, anxious, and worried is a normal feeling after hearing about such a horrific tragedy. If you can, try to be available, visible, and kind. You don’t have to be everything for everyone, just be enough and show others that they are not alone and that someone cares.

If you have any questions or concerns or would just like to talk, please feel free to Call or email. I'm happy to help.

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