The sister of one of the nine-year-old girls murdered in the Nashville school massacre sobbed ‘I don’t want to be an only child’ at an emotional vigil Monday night.
The community came together to pray for the six families who lost loved ones in Monday’s Covenant School shooting that saw three young children and three adults lose their lives, including third grader, Evelyn Dieckhaus.
Evelyn leaves behind an older sister Eleanor, who made her heartbreaking comments at Woodmont Christ Church.
In an online tribute to the little girl, a Sunday School teacher, Sarah Drury, described Evelyn as ‘adorable.’
‘One of the 9 year old victims of the Nashville school shooting goes to my church. Her name is Evelyn Dieckhaus. She was adorable. I taught her equally angelic big sister in Sunday Sunday school,’ Drury explained.
‘Her mom Katy volunteered in our children’s ministry… such a sweet Christian family. We had a prayer vigil tonight at our church. We are, the whole city, saturated in grief. Now. It’s time to marry prayer and grief with action.’
At Monday night’s vigils, boxes of tissues were placed at the end of each church pew. They were a much needed addition to the short service as people came into the church, many with tears streaming down their faces.
The crowd grew silent as candles were lit and Nashvillians began to grieve.
Dr. Michael Dieckhaus is seen holding his baby daughters, named Eleanor and Evelyn. Evelyn Dieckhaus, who was nine, was one of six people shot and killed at Covenant School in Nashville
Hallie Scruggs is seen with her father Chad Scruggs, the pastor at the Presbyterian church affiliated with the school
Substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, aka Cindy Broyles Peak (right) is shown with her daughter Ellie. Peak was one of six people shot to death at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee on March 27, 2023
Katherine Koonce, head of school (left), and Mike Hill, a custodian (right) were among those shot dead by Audrey Hale
Two women cry at a prayer vigil at Woodmont Christian Church during a vigil
‘It has been a hard day. We are sad. Sad for the families who came rushing to our church. Sad for those whose lives will never be the same because of the trauma inflicted on them. Sad because we live in a world broken by sin, suffering, and death,’ senior pastor Nathan Parker said in statement.
The reeling city mourned during multiple vigils on Monday evening.
At Belmont United Methodist Church, teary sniffling filled the background as vigil attendees sang, knelt in prayer and lit candles.
They lamented the national cycle of violent and deadly shootings, at one point reciting together, ‘we confess we have not done enough to protect’ the children injured or killed in shootings.
‘We need to step back. We need to breathe. We need to grieve,’ said Paul Purdue, the church’s senior pastor. ‘We need to remember. We need to make space for others who are grieving. We need to hear the cries of our neighbors.’
People gather at Belmont United Methodist Church during a vigil for the victims killed earlier in the day at the Covenant School, Covenant Presbytarian Church in Nashville, Tennessee
Two girls hug at a prayer vigil at Woodmont Christian Church for victims of the mass shooting
A woman hugs her daughter during a prayer vigil on Monday night
Family members pray during a vigil at Woodmont Christian Church for victims of the mass shooting at Covenant School in Nashville
Senior Pastor Paul Purdue preaches at Belmont United Methodist Church during a vigil for the victims killed earlier in the day at the Covenant School
Boxes of tissues were placed at the end of each pew. They were a much needed addition to the short service as people came into the church with tears streaming down their faces
Pastors Kate Fields and Ingrid McIntyre lead during a vigil for the victims killed earlier in the day at the Covenant School, Covenant Presbytarian Church in Nashville, Tennessee
Skyler Bush of Nashville lights a candle at Belmont United Methodist Church during a vigil
On Monday night, Covenant School which also lost the school’s top administrator, a substitute teacher and a custodian, released a statement regarding the tragedy.
‘Our community is heartbroken. We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church. We are focused on loving our students, our families, our faculty and staff and beginning the process of healing,’ the school wrote.
The massacre at Covenant was the latest in a series of mass shootings in a country that has grown increasingly unnerved by bloodshed in schools.
‘I was literally moved to tears to see this and the kids as they were being ushered out of the building,’ Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said on Monday during one of several news conferences.
Police gave unclear information on the gender of the shooter. For hours, police identified the shooter as a 28-year-old woman and eventually identified the person as Audrey Hale. Then at a late afternoon press conference, the police chief said that Hale was transgender.
Late on Monday night, cops continued to refer to the shooter using female pronouns.
Audrey Hale, 28, opened fire at a Nashville school on Monday, killing six
Hale’s house in Nashville is pictured with its front door already boarded up
The home of the Nashville shooter is seen in the southwest of the city
Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site at the Woodmont Baptist Church after the shooting
Children from The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville are taken to a site away from the school, following the shooting
The shooter gained entry by firing into glass doors on the building, shattering them, police later said in a tweet.
The shooter was armed with two ‘assault-style’ weapons as well as a handgun, authorities said. At least two of them were believed to have been obtained legally in the Nashville area, according to the chief.
The victims were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all nine years old, and adults Cynthia Peak, 61; Dr. Katherine Koonce, 60; and Mike Hill, 61.
The website of The Covenant School, a Presbyterian school founded in 2001, lists a Dr. Katherine Koonce as the head of the school. Her LinkedIn profile says she has led the school since July 2016. Peak was a substitute teacher and Hill was a custodian, according to investigators.
Students held hands as they walked to school buses, which drove them to a nearby church to be reunited with their parents.
Rachel Dibble, who was at the church as families found their children, described the scene as everyone being in ‘complete shock.’
‘People were involuntarily trembling,’ said Dibble, whose children attend a different private school in Nashville. ‘The children … started their morning in their cute little uniforms, they probably had some Froot Loops and now their whole lives changed today.’
A group prays with a child outside the reunification center at the Woodmont Baptist church after the school shooting
Children and a woman, all visibly shaken are seen following the school shooting
Children hold hands as they leave The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday after a female shooter opened fire, killing three kids and three staff members
President Joe Biden, speaking at the White House on Monday, called the shooting a ‘family’s worst nightmare’ and implored Congress again to pass a ban on certain semi-automatic weapons.
‘It´s ripping at the soul of this nation, ripping at the very soul of this nation,’ Biden said.
Biden later ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff on all federal buildings through March 31. He also spoke to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville Mayor John Cooper about the shooting, officials said.
Founded as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church – which is affiliated with the conservative evangelical Presbyterian Church in America – The Covenant School is located in the affluent Green Hills neighborhood just south of downtown Nashville that is home to the famed Bluebird Café – a spot typically beloved by musicians and songwriters.
The school has about 200 students from preschool through sixth grade, as well as roughly 50 staff members.
Late Monday night, police released approximately two minutes of edited surveillance video showing the shooter´s car driving up to the school from multiple angles, including one in which children can be seen playing on swings in the background.
Next an interior view shows glass doors to the school being shot out and the shooter ducking through one of the shattered doors.
More footage from inside shows the shooter walking through a school corridor holding a gun with a long barrel and walking into a room labeled ‘church office,’ then coming back out.
In the final part of the footage, the shooter can be seen walking down another long corridor with the gun drawn. The shooter is not seen interacting with anyone else on the video, which has no sound.
How the Nashville school shooting unfolded
09:53am – Hale’s gray Honda Fit is seen arriving at The Covenant School in Nashville.
09:54am – Hale is seen driving through the parking lot, seemingly calm. Nothing suggests anything is out of the ordinary as she finds a spot to park.
10:10am – The glass front door, which was locked, is shattered as Hale opens fire. She then steps through the debris into the empty reception of the church, which is adjacent to the school.
10:13am – Brandishing her assault rifle, Hale is seen entering a carpeted room, inside the church looking for any victims. The room is empty. The first call to 911 about shots being fired in the building came in at this time.
10:18am – Hale is seen on the same camera inside the church still looking for victims. She opens a door into the next room.
10:19am – The 28-year-old returns through the door, and aims her gun, although there is no one there. She tries another door, then returns 30 seconds later.
10:20am – Hale is now walking through a wooden-floored building labelled ‘first’ in the footage, past an empty reception. She stalks the corridor, then disappears from view.
10:27am – Hale is shot dead on the second floor of the school, having engaged officers who fired back, killing her.
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