What We Know About the Nashville School Shooting

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Questions continued to swirl on Wednesday around the mass shooting this week at the Covenant School, a Christian elementary school in Nashville, with investigators still trying to determine the motive behind the attack that killed six people.

The shooter, identified as Audrey E. Hale, ‌a 28-year-old former student of the school who lived in the area‌, had legally purchased seven firearms recently — including the three used in the shooting — and was being treated for an emotional disorder, the police said on Tuesday. The assailant was killed by the police minutes after they arrived at the scene.

The police stressed that they believed that the school and its church had been a target, not any single person. In documents, which the police are reviewing, there were also writings about other locations.

The new details emerged as the city was preparing to hold a candlelight vigil in downtown Nashville on Wednesday evening to honor the six victims.

Here’s what we know.

The police received a report of the shooting at 10:13 a.m. on Monday and heard gunshots on the second floor when they arrived at the school, said Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.

Surveillance footage released late Monday night without audio captured the shooter parking a car outside the school, and then firing through two sets of doors, the bullets shattering panes of glass. With a weapon drawn, the shooter could be seen walking through rooms and the halls of the school, at one point passing the children’s ministry.

A six-minute compilation of two officers’ body camera footage, released on Tuesday by the Police Department, showed the officers racing through the school, past children’s artwork hanging on the walls, searching classrooms and bathrooms, and ultimately killing the shooter at 10:27 a.m., Mr. Aaron said. (Note: The video includes disturbing footage.)

The police identified the six victims as Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus and William Kinney, all 9; Mike Hill, 61, a school custodian; Cynthia Peak, 61, a substitute teacher; and Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school.

Hallie was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, the church connected to the school. Mr. Scruggs was previously the pastor at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas and returned there in February to preach.

Mark Davis, the current pastor at Park Cities Presbyterian, said he spoke to Mr. Scruggs on Monday. In that conversation, Mr. Scruggs acknowledged that “he’s in shock.”

Evelyn’s family, in a statement, called her a “shining light in this world.”

“Our hearts are completely broken,” the statement said. “We cannot believe this has happened.”

Ms. Peak, the substitute teacher, also had ties to Park Cities Presbyterian; her sister worshiped there. And she was a close friend of the wife of Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee, Maria.

“Cindy was supposed to come over to have dinner with Maria last night,” the governor said in a video statement. “We’re enduring a very difficult moment,” Mr. Lee said. “Everyone is hurting, everyone.”

Mr. Hill was a school custodian who liked to cook and spend time with family, including his seven children and 14 grandchildren, his family said in a statement. He was “beloved by the faculty and students who filled him with joy for 14 years,” the statement said.

Dr. Koonce, the head of school since 2016, had previously worked at Christ Presbyterian Academy, a private school five miles away. “She has always been a woman who is deeply passionate about kids having a love of learning,” said David Thomas, a longtime friend.

The shooter had legally purchased seven firearms from five local gun stores and stashed them around the house, using three of them on Monday, said John Drake, the Nashville police chief. The three weapons included a military-style semiautomatic rifle, one handgun and a small 9-mm carbine, Mr. Aaron said.

The shooter had a handwritten diagram of the school, along with a drawing of how it could be entered, Mr. Aaron said. There were additional writings found in the car driven to the school and the family’s home. The assailant was “prepared for a confrontation with law enforcement” and “prepared to do more harm” before being killed, Chief Drake said.

The police chief said the shooter’s parents had felt that their child “should not own weapons” and believed that their child did not. The assailant was being treated by a doctor for an emotional disorder.

There was confusion about the shooter’s gender identity in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Chief Drake said the shooter identified as transgender, and officials used “she” and “her” to refer to the attacker. But according to a social media post and a LinkedIn profile, the shooter appeared to identify as male in recent months.

The Covenant School was founded in 2001 as a ministry of the Covenant Presbyterian Church. The church started the school in part because worshipers were finding it difficult to enroll their children in other private schools in the area, according to Jim Bachmann, a former pastor there.

The school, a stately stone building on a hill in an affluent area of Nashville, is “intentionally small,” according to its website. It has about 200 students in preschool through sixth grade and a student-to-teacher ratio of eight to one. Tuition is about $16,000 a year.

The Covenant School is part of a network of conservative evangelical churches and private schools in Nashville that is tight knit, even across denominational lines. Some families attend church at one place and school in another.

Covenant Presbyterian is a large church affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America, a theologically conservative denomination.

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