As the nation processes the tragedy that unfolded at The Covenant School, a Christian elementary academy in Nashville, Tennessee, heartbreaking details continue to arise. Officials said a shooter opened fire at the private Christian grade school, killing three children and three adults. Authorities said police fatally shot the shooter at the school.
Among the tragic stories, a pastor’s daughter was reportedly one of the six victims killed during the mass shooting. “The New York Post” reported that 9-year-old Hallie Scruggs was the youngest daughter of Chad Scruggs, the senior pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church, the church affiliated with the school, and his wife, Jada.
Chad Scruggs previously served as the pastor of Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, for close to six years and serves as a campus minister at Reformed University Fellowship at SMU. Mark Davis, the senior pastor of Park Cities, told WFAA-TV that the Scruggs family is still close with the Park Cities members and the church community. Some Park Cities members have flown to Nashville to comfort the Scruggs family.
Davis said, “They are so deeply connected to this church body. Even now, members of our church are flying to Nashville to be with them. The impact they had here was enormous.” Davis said the Scruggs’ children always seem to have a “radiance” and a profound faith. He told WFAA-TV, “All four children had that radiance; we talk about the radiance of Christ, even at a young age. They’re gifted children; they really are. But they’re godly children.”
Davis said he talked to Scruggs hours before the shooter, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, allegedly entered The Covenant School and opened fire. Davis said he listened to the grieving Scruggs’ faith shine through the unbelievable pain in addition to hearing despair in the pastor’s voice. Evelyn Dieckhaus and William Kinney, both 9 years old, were also killed, in addition to Hallie Scruggs.
Three adults at the school, 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce, and 61-year-old Mike Hill, also lost their lives at the school. Nashville Police Chief John Drake said the preliminary investigation indicated the shooting was targeted. He told reporters, “We have a manifesto; we have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident. We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”
He told NBS News detectives authorities believe the shooter had “some resentment for having to go to that school.” Police released surveillance video showing the shooter firing through glass panes on doors and entering the building, then roaming hallways and entering rooms with a weapon at the hip.
Drake described the guns used to carry out the shooting as two “AR-style weapons” — a rifle and a pistol — in addition to another handgun. Authorities believe two of the weapons may have been obtained legally and locally, according to the police chief.
Please continue to pray for the Scruggs family and the loved ones of all those whose lives were lost and impacted during this senseless act of violence.