The 28-year-old man who shot and killed six people at the Covenant School, including three children, identified as transgender and had a detailed plan to attack the Christian academy, according to Nashville police.
Audrey Hale, a former student, entered the school Monday morning by shooting through a door on the side of the building, according to officials.
While inside, Hale murdered Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all of whom were 9 years old, as well as custodian Mike Hill, 61, and substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 60, and school principal Katherine Koonce.
Hale was killed after the shootings when they encountered officers on the second floor at 10:27 a.m., fourteen minutes after the alarm was raised.
Police said Hale had at least two assault weapons and a handgun, and when they searched her family’s Nashville home, they discovered detailed maps and a manifesto for the attack.
“We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we’re going over that are relevant to today,” Nashville Metropolitan Police Chief John Drake said of the discovery.
He went on to say that Hale was “prepared to do more harm than was actually done,” and that she had planned an attack on another school in the area but had to back out because it was too secure.
Asked whether Hale’s identity could be a factor in the motive, Drake said authorities “feel that she identifies as trans, but we’re still in the initial investigation into all of that and if it actually played a role into this incident.”
In online profiles Hale had indicated they used he/him pronouns and also went by the name Aiden.
It is unclear whether Hale identified as a man or woman at the time of the slayings.
Hale was notably an alumnus of the small private Christian school, which teaches students in pre-K through 6th grade and only has about 200 students enrolled, according to its website.
The school focuses its curriculum on biblical theology, where students take classes about the bible along with standard education courses.
“There’s some belief that there was some resentment for having to go to that school,” Drake told NBC News’ Lester Holt Monday evening. “Don’t have all the details to that just yet and that’s why this incident occurred.”
Drake also claimed Hale was indiscriminate in her targets after entering the school through a locked door.
“She chose students at random from the school… “She fired rounds at anyone she came into contact with,” Drake explained.
Former headmaster Bill Campbell said, “I do remember her as a former student,” and that he had records of Hale as a third-grader at the school in 2005 and a fourth-grader in 2006, but she does not appear in his yearbooks after that and he assumed she must have transferred.
Police said Hale had no prior arrests or mental health issues, that they are in contact with the suspect’s father, and that they plan to release video of the shooting in the coming days.
Police also released images of the weapons used by Hale, which included two assault rifles and a handgun.
The Covenant School was established in 2001 as a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, with annual tuition fees ranging from $7,250 for three-day pre-school to $16,500 for kindergarten through sixth grade students.
The school focuses its curriculum on biblical theology, where students take classes about the bible along with standard education courses, with the school motto being “Shepherding Hearts, Empowering Minds, Celebrating Childhood.”
The school is located in the affluent Green Hills neighborhood just south of Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, a beloved spot for musicians and songwriters.