- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2023

A woman armed with two assault-style rifles and a pistol killed three students and three adult staff members Monday at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, before police shot her dead, in a rare mass shooting carried out by a female suspect.

The violence at the 200-student Covenant School took place after the shooter, a 28-year-old White Nashville woman, entered the school through a side entrance.

Metropolitan Nashville Police said responding officers entered the school and moved toward the sound of gunshots, encountering “a female who was firing” on the school‘s second floor. Two officers opened fire on her, killing her.

Authorities were working to identify her and whether she had a connection to the school. Police Chief John Drake said the shooter previously may have been a student at the school. He said all doors to the school, a pre-K-through-6th grade campus, had been locked.

SEE ALSO: White House calls for assault rifle ban in wake of Nashville school shooting

Chief Drake told reporters that he was “moved to tears” by what he saw in the aftermath at the school.

President Biden urged Congress again Monday to approve a ban on assault weapons, citing the Nashville shooting.

“It’s heartbreaking, a family’s worst nightmare,” Mr. Biden said. “We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart, ripping at the very soul of this nation. We have to do more to protect our schools. I call on Congress again to pass my assault weapons ban.”

The shooting took place shortly before 10:15 a.m. local time in the city’s Green Hills neighborhood. The school is part of the Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Other students walked to safety Monday, holding hands as they left their school surrounded by police cars, to a nearby church to be reunited with their parents.

“In a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded, long list of communities to experience a school shooting,” Mayor John Cooper wrote on Twitter. “My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Our entire city stands with you.”

SEE ALSO: Police: Nashville school shooting suspect was former student

Jozen Reodica heard the police sirens and fire trucks blaring from outside her office building nearby. As her building was placed under lockdown, she took out her phone and recorded the chaos.

“I thought I would just see this on TV,” she said. “And right now, it’s real.”

On WTVF TV, reporter Hannah McDonald said that her mother-in-law works at the front desk at The Covenant School. The woman had stepped outside for a break Monday morning and was coming back when she heard gunshots, McDonald said during a live broadcast. The reporter said she has not been able to speak with her mother-in-law but said her husband had.

Since 1966, about 98% of mass shootings in the U.S. have been committed by men, according to The Violence Project, a nonpartisan research group.

The killings in Nashville follow other recent school shootings, including the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last year; a first grader who shot his teacher in Virginia; and a shooting last week in Denver that wounded two administrators.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Mr. Biden wants Congress to act “because enough is enough.”

“How many more children have to be murdered before Republicans in Congress will step up and act and pass the assault weapons ban, close loopholes in our background check system or require the safe storage of guns,” she said.

First lady Jill Biden also addressed the shooting while speaking at an event in the District.

“We just learned about another shooting in Tennessee — a school shooting — and I am truly without words,” Mrs. Biden said. “Our children deserve better. And we stand, all of us, we stand with Nashville in prayer.”

Republican officials praised the quick actions of first responders.

“Devastated and heartbroken about the tragic news at Covenant School,” Sen. Bill Hagerty, Tennessee Republican, said in a statement over Twitter. “I’m grateful to law enforcement and first responders for their heroic actions. I am monitoring the situation closely, and my office is in contact with local officials & available to anyone needing assistance.”

Fellow Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn said that she was “heartbroken to hear about the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville” and added that she’s ready to assist first responders in any way. Rep. Andy Ogles, Tennessee Republican, said that “as a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence.”

Democratic state Rep. Bob Freeman, who hails from Nashville, also expressed his condolences in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

“I live around the corner from Covenant and pass by it often. I have friends who attend both church and school there. I have also visited the church in the past. It tears my heart apart to see this,” Mr. Freeman said in the statement.

Jeff Mordock contributed to this story, which is based in part on wire service reports.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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