Nashville school shooter hid seven guns bought from five different stores from parents

Police chief says parents believed suspect had sold only gun they had

Gustaf Kilander
Washington DC
Tuesday 28 March 2023 23:22 BST
Shooter Owned Seven Firearms, Police Discover After School Attack

The Nashville school shooter hid seven guns from his parents bought in the last few years at five different stores ahead of the attack at a Christian school in the Tennessee capital.

The suspect, identified by police as Audrey Hale, killed three adults and three children at The Covenant School on Monday.

Police said on Tuesday that Hale, who was shot and killed by officers, was not specifically targeting anyone at the school. The motive remains unclear. Hale previously attended the school.

“This school, this church building, was a target of the shooter, but we have no information at present to indicate that the shooter was specifically targeting any one of the six individuals who were murdered,” police spokesperson Don Aaron said.

“We do not have a motive at this time,” Nashville police chief John Drake said.

Officials said that Hale wasn’t on the radar of law enforcement ahead of the shooting, according to the Associated Press.

“We had absolutely no idea” Hale was a danger to the community, the chief said, according to the BBC.

One of the weapons used by Audrey Elizabeth Hale (Reuters)

Mr Drake said on Tuesday that police had spoken to Hale’s family, who said that Hale had been treated for an “emotional disorder”.

“Law enforcement knew nothing about the treatment,” the chief said.

Mr Drake said that the parents believed Hale “should not own weapons” and that the suspect “had been hiding several weapons within the house”.

The parents believed that Hale had sold one firearm and “did not own any more”, the chief added.

Three of the seven legally and locally bought firearms were used in the attack on Monday, according to police.

A weapon used at The Covenant School by Audrey Elizabeth Hale (Reuters)

Hale used an AR-style rifle, an AR-style pistol, and a handgun.

The parents of the shooter told law enforcement that Hale had a red bag when leaving the home before the attack.

They had asked Hale what the bag contained, but in the end dismissed the issue, believing that Hale didn’t own any firearms.

Mr Drake said police had no reason to seize Hale’s firearms. Tennessee doesn’t have a red flag law allowing the authorities to take guns from people thought to possibly be a danger to others or themselves.

Police have identified the suspected shooter by their name at birth; Hale reportedly was a transgender man who used he/him pronouns, though law enforcement officials initially described the suspect as a woman in the aftermath of the shooting. Police did not provide another name but on the suspect’s social media accounts they refer to themselves as Aiden.

The police chief said that had law enforcement been aware of the danger posed by Hale, they would have attempted to seize the firearms.

A weapon used at The Covenant School byAudrey Elizabeth Hale (Reuters)

“There’s not a law for that,” he said, but he added that if police had been aware of Hale’s plans “then we would have tried to get those weapons.”

He went on to say that Hale’s actions during the attack have made police consider the possibility that the suspect had “training”.

“The suspect was on an upper level, we believe there has been some training to have been able to shoot from a higher level,” Mr Drake told the press. “From the video I’ve seen [Hale] stood away from the glass so [the suspect] wouldn’t be an easy target to be shot.”

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