Nashville Police Chief John Drake said the school shooter Monday decided against attacking another school because it had “too much security.”
The revelation during a press conference Tuesday rekindled the debate about having armed officers at schools across the United States.
A woman, who identified as a male and was heavily armed, killed three 9-year-old students and three faculty members at the Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, before police shot the shooter dead in a rare mass shooting by a female.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise pushed back on Democratic leaders and their allies who again called for an assault weapons ban following the massacre. He said schools need better security.
Mr. Scalise, Louisiana Republican, became a shooting victim himself when a supporter of Sen. Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats, fired off a hail of bullets at the GOP congressional baseball team on a Virginia practice field in 2017.
Mr. Scalise told reporters the country should focus on mental health issues that appear to be a driving force in many mass shootings.
The Louisiana Republican also said he gets angry when people politicize their personal agendas before the facts emerge following such incidents.
“It looks like the shooter originally went to another school that had much stronger security and ultimately went to this [other] school. Let’s get the facts,” he said. “And let’s work to see if there’s something that we can do to help secure schools. 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. … So why don’t we, number one, keep those families in our prayers and see if there were things that were missed along the way.”
Police identified the shooter as Audrey Hale, 28, a transgender man who had a “manifesto” at home and had drawn a detailed school map. Hale was a former student at the school.
Hale shot through a locked side door of the building and carried two AR assault-style rifles and a pistol. Police said two of the shooter’s firearms were obtained legally in the Nashville area.
Most of the shooting took place in a first-floor lobby area, police said. Police identified the victims as 9-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney and substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, custodian Mike Hill, 61, and Head of School Katherine Koonce, 60.
Metropolitan Nashville Police said responding officers entered the school and moved toward the sound of gunshots before encountering “a female who was firing” on the school’s second floor. Two officers opened fire and killed the shooter.
Chief Drake said all doors to the school, a pre-K through sixth-grade campus, had been locked.
President Biden referenced the Nashville shooting while calling on Congress to approve a ban on assault weapons.
“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.”
• Kerry Picket can be reached at email@example.com.
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