March 28, 2023 - Nashville elementary school shooting

By Adrienne Vogt, Dakin Andone, Elise Hammond and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 9:08 a.m. ET, March 29, 2023
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5:23 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

9-year-old victim was a "shining light," her family says

From CNN’s Sarah Dewberry

Evelyn Dieckhaus.
Evelyn Dieckhaus. (KMOV/Dieckhaus Family)

The family of Evelyn Dieckhaus has been left in disbelief after she and two other 9-year-olds were killed in Monday's mass school shooting in Nashville, according to a statement obtained by CNN affiliate KMOV. Three adults were also killed in the attack at the Covenant School.

"Our hearts are completely broken. We cannot believe this has happened," the family's statement says. "Evelyn was a shining light in this world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve."

Here's what we know so far about the six victims.

12:37 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Biden after another mass shooting: "I can't do anything except plead with the Congress"

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden suggested Tuesday in the aftermath of another mass school shooting that any future action on gun violence will fall to Congress, as he said he has exhausted all executive actions.

"I can’t do anything except plead with the Congress to act reasonably," the president told CNN’s MJ Lee as he departed the White House for an unrelated trip to North Carolina. His administration has reined in so-called ghost guns, promoted safe storage of firearms, bolstered police forces and expanded community violence intervention programs.

"I have done the full extent of my executive authority — to do on my own, anything about guns … The Congress has to act. The majority of the American people think having assault weapons is bizarre, it’s a crazy idea. They’re against that. And so I think the Congress could be passing an assault weapon ban," Biden said. 

Biden will travel to Nashville, he told Lee. "Yes, I’ve spoken with everyone down there, from the mayor to the senators, all the players, I spoke with the chief of police today," he said. "I’ve spoken to all of them."

1:53 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

What lawmakers are saying about AR-15s and gun reform legislation after the Nashville school shooting

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer, Lauren Fox and Manu Raju

CNN spoke with Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, one day after a school shooting in Nashville left three children and three adults dead.

Top House and Senate Republicans rejected calls for additional action on guns, arguing there’s no appetite for tougher restrictions.

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, whose committee has jurisdiction over gun policy, said he doesn't think Congress should limit assault weapons.

“The Second Amendment is the Second Amendment,” he said. “I believe in the Second Amendment, and we shouldn’t penalize law-abiding American citizens.” 

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a participant in prior negotiations on gun legislation, said, “I don't know if there's much space to do more, but I'll certainly look and see.”

Graham said he is opposed to a ban on AR-15s, noting he owns one himself, and he argued it would “be hard to implement a national red flag law.” 

After the shooting in his district yesterday, Republican Rep. Andy Ogles shut down questions about banning AR-15 rifles. 

Ogles, who represents Nashville, said, "Why not talk about the real issue facing the country? And that’s mental health." 

Remember, Ogles posted a photo on Facebook in Christmas 2022 when he was mayor of Maury County that showed him and his family standing in front of a Christmas tree holding weapons, with the caption: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters that he is “not very hopeful” that the Senate can pass gun legislation this Congress, adding, "yet we have to try." 

“This is uniquely American and the people of this country have to ask themselves a basic question: Had enough? Had enough of sending your children and grandchildren to school and wondering if they’re going to be victims of assault rifles?” he said.

He also went after Republican arguments that semiautomatic weapons are constitutionally protected. 

“I mean, this is madness. To think that some people rationalize this as part of the Second Amendment is beyond me,” he said. 

Despite Republican opposition, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal insisted he is not giving up. 

“We've heard before that gun violence prevention is impossible, and yet we've made progress as we come together. I'm not taking no for an answer,” he said. “I'm going to continue seeking to enlist my Republican colleagues because they know the outrage, the grief.”

Republican Rep. Byron Donalds pushed back on calls for further gun legislation and a ban on AR-15s.

“If you're going to talk about the AR-15, we're talking politics now,” he said. “Let’s not get into politics. Let’s not get into emotion, because emotion feels good, but emotion doesn’t solve problems.”

Republican Sen. Todd Young, when asked if he'd support a hearing specifically on assault weapons, said he'd back a hearing to understand what happened during the Nashville shooting.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise demurred when asked if the shooting would move Congress to address any sort of reforms.

"The first thing in any kind of tragedy I do is I pray. I pray for the victims, pray to their families. I really get angry when I see people try to politicize it for their own personal agenda, especially when we don't even know the facts or facts coming out,” he said. 

“Let's get the facts. And let's work to see if there's something that we can do to help secure schools,” he said. “We've talked about things that we can do and it just seems like on the other side, all they want to do is take guns away from law-abiding citizens."

Scalise was wounded in 2017 when a gunman opened fired while Republican members of Congress were practicing for an annual charity baseball game.

Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Pete Aguilar said "shame on Speaker (Kevin) McCarthy" for not wanting to bring up gun legislation.

Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Ted Lieu criticized Republicans for delaying a Judiciary Committee hearing on guns today.

"Now why would they do that, if they honestly believe as they say that arming more Americans with more guns, more AR-15s, more pistol braces would make us safer? They would have held a hearing and had that as a solution, but they didn’t do that. They ran away. They ran away, and they’re hiding," Lieu said, closing with "coward."

Separately, Senate Chaplain Barry Black, whose role is traditionally nonpolitical, called for lawmakers to take action on gun violence “beyond thoughts and prayers” after the shooting.

“Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers," he said Tuesday morning on the Senate floor.

CNN's Nicky Robertson contributed reporting to this post.

12:51 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

CNN analyst reacts to Nashville body cam footage: "Law enforcement at its finest"


CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Wackrow commended officers for their response to Monday’s shooting at a Nashville school, as seen in footage released Tuesday from two of the officers’ body cameras.

“What the viewers are seeing is law enforcement at its finest,” said Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent.

The videos from the body-worn cameras of officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo — who Nashville police said fatally shot the attacker — show officers go into The Covenant School and immediately enter several rooms to look for the suspect as siren wail.

"Not knowing what the circumstances really were upon arrival, officers remain calm and collected, not raising anxiety but making the entry as necessary to go search for the suspect," he said, adding officers relied on their training to move toward the sound of gunfire and confront the shooter.

The speed with which officers respond to a shooter is "essential for the preservation of life," Wackrow said. "And these officers did a remarkable job."

11:18 a.m. ET, March 28, 2023

White House not currently planning major gun reform push in wake of Nashville shooting, officials say

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak

White House officials are not currently planning a major new push around gun safety reform in the wake of the deadly Nashville school shooting, three senior administration officials said.

But President Joe Biden and White House officials will continue to make one thing clear: It's up to Congress to act.

"It's really on Congress at this point," one senior administration official said. "The president has taken every executive action he can."

The White House says Biden has taken more than 20 executive actions on guns since taking office, including regulating the use of "ghost guns" and sales of stabilizing braces that effectively turn pistols into rifles. The list also includes funding measures meant to prevent gun violence.

He also signed a bipartisan measure in 2022 expanding background checks and providing federal funding for so-called "red flag laws," though it failed to ban any weapons and fell far short of what Biden and his party had advocated for, and polls show most Americans want to see.

White House officials are clear-eyed about the political realities in Congress, where Republicans in control of the House have rejected Biden's calls for an assault weapons ban. Even when both chambers of Congress were controlled by Democrats during the first two years of Biden's term, an assault weapon ban gained little traction, in part because of a 60-vote threshold necessary for passage. 

As of now, White House officials are still mulling whether Biden will once again address the Nashville shooting at the top of his remarks this afternoon in Durham, North Carolina.

11:34 a.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Police release body-camera footage from officers who responded to Nashville school shooting

(Metro Nashville Police Department)
(Metro Nashville Police Department)

Metro Nashville Police Department released body-camera footage Tuesday from the two officers who shot the Covenant School shooter.

CNN is reviewing the footage and will update with more information.

11:38 a.m. ET, March 28, 2023

There have been at least 130 mass shootings in the US this year

From CNN's Elizabeth Joseph

Children from the Covenant School hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site following a deadly shooting at their school in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday, March 27.
Children from the Covenant School hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site following a deadly shooting at their school in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday, March 27. (Jonathan Mattise/AP)

There have been at least 130 mass shootings in 2023, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, including Monday's deadly shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Gun Violence Archive, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter. 

Three students and three adults were killed at the Covenant School, police said. The shooter, who was identified as a 28-year-old Nashville resident, was also killed in a shootout with police.

Last year, the US hit 100 mass shootings on March 19, per the GVA. The previous year, 2021, saw a late March date, as well. From 2018 to 2020, the country didn't reach 100 mass shootings until May.

This post has been updated with the latest figures from the Gun Violence Archive.

11:38 a.m. ET, March 28, 2023

The number of US mass shootings far surpasses any other developed nation

From CNN's Kara Fox, Krystina Shveda, Natalie Croker and Marco Chacon

Regular mass shootings are a uniquely American phenomenon. The US is the only developed country where mass shootings have happened every single year for the past 20 years, according to Jason R. Silva, an assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at William Paterson University.

To compare across countries, Silva uses a conservative definition of a mass shooting: an event that leaves four or more people dead, excluding the shooter, and that excludes profit-driven criminal activity, familicide and state-sponsored violence. Using this approach, 68 people were killed and 91 injured in eight public shootings in the US over the course of 2019 alone.

A broader definition of mass shootings reveals an even higher figure.

The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, which CNN relies on for its reporting of mass shootings, defines a mass shooting as an incident leaving at least four people dead or injured, excluding the shooter, and does not differentiate victims based upon the circumstances in which they were shot.

It counted as many as 417 mass shootings in 2019 and 646 in 2022. There have been at least 130 mass shootings so far in 2023, including the one Monday at a school in Nashville.

Meanwhile, mass shootings continue to drive demand for more guns, experts say, with gun control activists arguing the time for reform is long overdue.

Researchers from Washington University at St Louis’ Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute presented this argument to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2018, saying that the US government’s “failure” to prevent and reduce gun-related violence through “reasonable and effective domestic measures has limited the ability of Americans to enjoy many fundamental freedoms and guarantees protected by international human rights law,” including the right to life and bodily integrity.

This post has been updated with the latest figures from the Gun Violence Archive.

Read more here about how guns in the US compare to the rest of the world.

9:28 a.m. ET, March 28, 2023

How to talk to your kids about Monday's school shooting, according to a counseling professional

Family members pray during a vigil at Woodmont Christian Church for victims of a shooting at Covenant School on Monday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Family members pray during a vigil at Woodmont Christian Church for victims of a shooting at Covenant School on Monday in Nashville, Tennessee. (Mark Zaleski/The Tennessean/AP)

Sissy Goff, the director of child and adolescent counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministries, was at the reunification site in Nashville Monday, where she told CNN she faced parents wondering about how to talk to their kids about the deadly shooting at the Covenant School.

Three 9-year-old children and three adults were killed in the Monday rampage.

"First of all, as grownups, we really have to manage our own anxiety, because kids pick up on it," Goff told "CNN This Morning."

It's key that parents let their children lead the conversation, Goff said, allowing them to ask questions and providing age appropriate answers.

"Kids have this amazing innate ability that they ask for the information that they're ready for," Goff said, adding parents could use "really short factual statements."

"Say two to three sentences and let them ask the next question," she said. "And then answer that age appropriately — honestly — and let them ask again."

"Be the source," she added, "where you're the one telling them, not someone else."