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Police chief says no evidence Nashville shooter had specific problems or issues with school

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Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said police have met with The Covenant School shooter's parents and school officials and have yet to uncover any specific issues or problems in the attacker's past.

"As of right now, we don't have any indication there was any problems at the school or at home," Drake told CNN on Wednesday. "We can't confirm any type of problems at this time."

The chief's comments come as police have worked to answer the yet unanswerable: Why did 28-year-old Audrey Hall decide to storm into a private Christian school and murder three children and three adults?

The deadly rampage Monday morning at Covenant lasted about 14 minutes before the shooter was shot and killed by police. The assailant killed three 9-year-olds as well as a custodian, a substitute teacher and the head of the school.

The massacre marked the 19th shooting at a school or university in just the past three months that left at least one person wounded, a CNN count shows. It was among 130 mass shootings this year in the US with at least four wounded, excluding the shooting, and it was the deadliest US school shooting since last May's massacre in Uvalde, Texas, left 21 people dead.

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In Monday's attack, the killer targeted the school -- which the shooter attended as a child -- but it's believed the victims were fired upon at random, police said. Police have said they do not yet know of a motive but noted the attack was closely planned. Drake said officials are combing through a notebook of writings from Hale to learn more.

Hale had been under care for an emotional disorder and legally bought seven guns in the past three years, keeping them hidden in her home from her parents, Drake said.

Tennessee does not have a "red flag" law that would allow a judge to temporarily seize guns from someone who is believed to be a threat to themselves or others. Even so, Drake said they did not know about Hale's issues, and there is yet no evidence that Hale was believed to be a threat prior to this week.

"Law enforcement was never contacted," he said. "She was never committed to an institution."

The shooter is believed to have had weapons training, police spokesperson Don Aaron told CNN. The department is working to determine when and where that training would have taken place and is working on a timeline of the shooter's movements the day of the shooting, he said.

The bloodshed at the school again reignited debates about gun control, though some lawmakers have already acknowledged immediate reforms once more appear unlikely.

"I can't do anything except plead with the Congress to act reasonably," President Joe Biden said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, grief-stricken Nashville residents are expected to unite at a vigil Wednesday evening to mourn the victims. First lady Jill Biden, a lifelong educator, plans to attend as well, the White House announced.

Art instructor describes shooter's recent social media posts

A college art instructor who taught the Nashville school shooter told CNN the attacker once had an outburst in class and appeared to be "suffering" in social media posts over the past year.

Maria Colomy, the instructor, taught the shooter, identified by police as Audrey Hale, for two semesters in 2017 at Nossi College of Art & Design in Nashville. On the first day of class, Hale could not figure out how to set up a password, became upset and had to leave the classroom, Colomy told CNN. It was Hale's only outburst, she said.

Colomy described Hale as a small, quiet student and described Hale's work as "whimsical" and "childlike."

"I could have seen (Hale) doing children's books for a living," Colomy said.

Colomy followed Hale on Facebook, and for the past year Hale's posts grieved the apparent death of a former girls' basketball teammate, the instructor said.

"The only thing I would see (Hale) post would be about this girl," she said.

It was around this time that Hale expressed on Facebook a desire to use he/him pronouns and the name Aiden. Police have said Hale was transgender.

"From what I saw on (Hale's) social, (Hale) was suffering," Colomy said.

The shooter's posts give more details

The shooter had legally bought seven firearms -- including an AR-15 and two others used in Monday's attack -- and hidden them at home, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Tuesday. The guns were purchased between October 2020 and June 2022, Aaron said.

Hale's parents told police they knew Hale had bought and sold one weapon and thought that was the extent of it, Drake said.

Hale had also written extensively in a personal notebook about the shootings, including detailed maps of the school, and had scouted a second possible attack location in Nashville, Drake said.

The shooter had a drawing of how to enter the building and "assaults that would take place," Drake said at a Tuesday news conference. The writings revealed that the attack "was calculated and planned," police said.

The attacker was "prepared for confrontation with law enforcement, prepared to do more harm than was actually done," Drake said Monday.

Hale's childhood friend also revealed the killer sent her disturbing messages minutes before the attack, saying "I'm planning to die today" and it would be on the news, Averianna Patton told CNN on Tuesday.

Hale graduated from Nossi College of Art & Design last year, the president of the school confirmed to CNN. Hale worked as a freelance graphic designer and a part-time grocery shopper, a LinkedIn profile says.

Police have referred to Hale as a "female shooter," and later said Hale was transgender. Hale used male pronouns on a social media profile, a spokesperson told CNN when asked to clarify.

Police fatally shot attacker, bodycam footage shows

Bodycam footage from the officers and surveillance video released by police provided a timeline of the attack and response.

Armed with three firearms, the shooter got into the school by firing through glass doors and climbing through to get inside, then walked through the hallways and pointed an assault-style weapon, surveillance video released by Metro Nashville Police shows.

The first call about the shooting came in at 10:13 a.m., and police rushed to the school, arriving at 10:24 a.m., according to the police chief.

Police on Tuesday released body-camera footage from the two officers who opened fire on the shooter after rushing into the school on Monday.

The footage, from the body-worn cameras of officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo, shows a group of five officers entered the school amid wailing fire alarms and immediately went into several empty classrooms rooms to look for the suspect.

As they cleared the rooms, officers heard gunfire from upstairs and rushed up to the second floor. Engelbert, armed with an assault-style rifle, fired multiple times at a person near a large window, who dropped to the ground, the video shows.

Collazo then appeared to shoot the person on the ground four times with a handgun, yelling, "Stop moving!" The officers then approached the person, moved a gun away and radioed, "Suspect down! Suspect down!"

The shooter was dead at 10:27 a.m., police said.

As a private school operated by a church, there was no school resource officer assigned by the city to guard the school, according to Aaron, the police spokesman.

Asked about the roughly 11-minute gap between when police received the first call of an active shooter and when officers arrived at the school, the police chief told reporters, "From what I've seen, I don't have a particular problem with it. But we always want to get better. We always want to get there in 2 or 3 minutes, and so there's a lot of things that could have happened -- traffic was locked down, etc."

The quick law enforcement response in Nashville stands in notable contrast with the delay in Uvalde of more than an hour before authorities confronted and killed the gunman -- a lag that revived a nationwide conversation about the use of force during shootings in public places, especially schools.

The 6 lives lost

The victims of the shooting included three 9-year-old students: Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs, the daughter of lead church pastor Chad Scruggs. Also killed were Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; Katherine Koonce, the 60-year-old head of the school; and Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian, police said.

"Our community is heartbroken," The Covenant School, a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, said in a statement. "We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church."

Sissy Goff, one of Koonce's friends, went to the reunification center after the shooting and suspected something was wrong when she didn't see Koonce there.

"Knowing her, she's so kind and strong and such a voice of reason and just security for people that she would have been there in front handling everything, so I had a feeling," Goff said.

Peak, a substitute teacher, was best friends with Tennessee First Lady Maria Lee and was supposed to go to the Lees' home for dinner Monday evening, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in a video statement Tuesday.

"Maria woke up this morning without one of her best friends, Cindy Peak," the governor said. "Cindy and Maria and Katherine Koonce were all teachers at the same school and have been family friends for decades."

Some families of the victims have released statements as they mourn their loves ones. Hill was a father of seven children and grandfather to 14 who loved to cook and spend time with his family, his family said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WSMV. Evelyn's family called her "a shining light in this world."

The city has set up a fund to help support the survivors of the shooting, Mayor John Cooper said.


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CNN's Melissa Alonso, Amara Walker, Dianne Gallagher, Tina Burnside, Amanda Jackson, Sara Smart, Jamiel Lynch, Holly Yan and Michelle Krupa contributed to this report.