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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7:47 a.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Ex-teammate says shooter sent messages before Nashville school rampage

From CNN's Tina Burnside

Averianna Patton was messaged by Audrey Hale prior to yesterday's school shooting in Nashville.
Averianna Patton was messaged by Audrey Hale prior to yesterday's school shooting in Nashville. (CNN)

In messages shared with CNN affiliate WTVF, a former middle school basketball teammate of Audrey Hale provides chilling new details regarding an exchange she had on social media with the shooter prior to yesterday's school shooting in Nashville. 

Averianna Patton said she saw a message on her phone that Hale had sent to her on Instagram Monday morning that stated Hale was planning to die by suicide and that she would see it on the news. A screenshot of a message published by WTVF appeared to show that the message was sent at 9:57 a.m. local time.

"One day this will make more sense," Hale wrote. "I've left behind more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen," the message stated. 

"I tried to comfort and encourage her and subsequently reached out to the Suicide Prevention Help Line after being instructed to by my father at 10:08 a.m.," Patton said. 

Patton told WTVF that she she called the Nashville Davidson County Sheriff's Office at 10:13 a.m. to make them aware of the situation and was instructed to call Nashville's non-emergency number. 

"I called Nashville's non-emergency line at 10:14 a.m. and was on hold for nearly seven minutes before speaking with someone who said that they would send an officer to my home. An officer did not come to my home until 3:29 p.m.," Patton said.

In a Tuesday morning interview on CNN, Patton said she's "still trying to process it all."

She said she "just couldn't believe it" when she found out Hale was the shooter.

Asked by CNN's Don Lemon why Hale messaged her specifically, Patton said she works in radio and is known in Nashville, but she's "asking God the same question."

"Keep praying for us ... I just want a solution, a better way, some better protocol to, you know, to avoid this in the future," Patton said.

"I just want to see if it's something that we can do as a community, as a city, to avoid this," she said.

Some background on timing: Don Aaron, spokesperson for the Metro Nashville Police Department, said during a news conference that the first calls of an active shooting came in at around 10:15 a.m. local time.

When officers arrived, they went through the first level of the building, he said. They then heard gunshots coming from the second level of the building, according to Aaron. He said that's where police confronted and killed the shooter at 10:27 a.m. local time.

5:24 p.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Church confirms former pastor’s daughter among children killed in Nashville school shooting

From CNN staff

This is a photo from October 2019 of Hallie and her father, Chad Scruggs posted to his Facebook page.
This is a photo from October 2019 of Hallie and her father, Chad Scruggs posted to his Facebook page. (From Chad Scruggs)

Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas released a statement Monday confirming that their former pastor, Chad Scruggs, lost his daughter Hallie in Monday’s shooting at the Covenant School.

CNN had reported that Hallie Scruggs was among the three 9-year-old students shot and killed in the shooting.

Here is the church's statement:

"The Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCPC) family is incredibly saddened by the unimaginable tragedy today at Covenant Presbyterian School in Nashville, TN. Covenant Presbyterian Church is a sister church of PCPC; many of our members have deep friendships and family connections there.
Chad Scruggs, current Lead Pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville, served for several years as Associate Pastor at PCPC. PCPC Senior Pastor, Mark Davis shared, “We love the Scruggs family and mourn with them over their precious daughter Hallie. Together, we trust in the power of Christ to draw near and give us the comfort and hope we desperately need.”
9:21 a.m. ET, March 28, 2023

What we know so far about the Nashville school shooting — and where things stand in the investigation

From CNN's Nouran Salahieh

Nashville police block the entrance of the Covenant School in Tennessee on March 27.
Nashville police block the entrance of the Covenant School in Tennessee on March 27. (Benjamin Hendren/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Police in Nashville are still digging into the background and motivations of a former student who entered a Christian elementary school armed with AR-style weapons and detailed maps and opened fire, killing three children and three adults.

If you are just reading in, here's the latest on the shooting and investigation:

The shooter: The person was identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale. Hale was shot and killed by police during the Monday attack, and left behind “drawn out” maps of the Covenant School detailing “how this was all going to take place,” Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said. As police work to piece together what led up to the violence, officials said they had determined where the shooter lived in the Nashville area and have interviewed Hale’s father. 

Hale, who attended the Christian school years ago, left writings that pertain to the shooting and had scouted a second possible attack location in Nashville, “but because of a threat assessment by the suspect – there’s too much security – they decided not to,” police chief said.The writings revealed that the attack at Covenant School “was calculated and planned,” Metro Nashville said.

So far, little is known about the shooter. Hale graduated from Nossi College of Art & Design in Nashville last year, the president of the school confirmed to CNN, and a LinkedIn profile says Hale worked as a freelance graphic designer and a part-time grocery shopper.

Police have referred to Hale as the “female shooter” and at an evening press conference added that Hale was transgender. When asked for clarification, a spokesperson told CNN Hale used “male pronouns” on a social media profile.

The weapons: The shooter was “someone that had multiple rounds of ammunition, prepared for confrontation with law enforcement, prepared to do more harm than was actually done,” the police chief said in a news conference.

Three weapons – an AR-style rifle, an AR-style pistol and a handgun – were found and police believe Hale obtained at least two of the weapons legally, Drake said. A search warrant executed at Hale’s home also resulted in the seizure of a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun and other evidence, according to police.

The victims: All three students shot and killed were 9 years old. They were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. Three adults killed in the shooting were identified as 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce and 61-year-old Mike Hill, police said. Two Covenant School employees are among the victims of Monday’s mass shooting, according to the school.

What is expected to happen today: Investigators were expected to spend Tuesday processing the scene and gathering more details about what happened during the roughly 14 minutes of terror at the elementary school.

Mass shootings in America: The attack marked the 19th shooting at a school or university so far in 2023 in which at least one person was wounded, according to a CNN tally. With six victims, the shooting at Covenant is the deadliest school shooting since the attack in Uvalde, Texas, last May left 21 people dead.

Read more about the shooting here.

7:03 a.m. ET, March 28, 2023

Police expected to be processing shooting scene into Tuesday

From CNN staff

Metro Nashville Police officers gather near the Covenant School, following the deadly shooting in Nashville on Monday.
Metro Nashville Police officers gather near the Covenant School, following the deadly shooting in Nashville on Monday. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean/AP)

Police will continue processing the scene on Tuesday and work to gather more details about what happened during a shooting at a Nashville elementary school, the Metro Nashville Police Department said.

This work has been going on since Monday evening into Tuesday, said the department's spokesperson, Don Aaron.