The suspected shooter who killed three children and three adults at a school in Nashville on Monday morning sent a series of dark messages to a friend in the minutes leading up to the attack, according to a report.
Police identified Audrey Hale, 28, as the person responsible for the bloodshed at the Covenant School. In a statement, authorities said the first 911 call about shots being fired at the private Christian school was made at 10:13 a.m.
Just minutes earlier, a former middle school basketball teammate of Hale’s told WTVF she received an Instagram message from the alleged killer. “I’m planning to die today,” the message sent to Averianna Patton read. “THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!!”
Hale followed up by telling Patton that: “You’ll probably hear about me on the news after I die. This is my last goodbye. I love you. See you again in another life.” The first message, which was timestamped at 9:57 a.m., appears to have been sent around 16 minutes before the first 911 call was made.
Hale signed off the message to Patton as “Audrey (Aiden).” Police initially described Hale as a teenager, then a 28-year-old woman, later adding that Hale was transgender. A source close to the Hale family told The Daily Beast that Hale had “relatively recently” started “identifying as he/him.”
Patton replied to the alarming message by saying that Hale had “so much more life to live.” “I know but I don’t want to live,” Hale replied. “I’m so sorry. I’m not trying to upset you or get attention. I just need to die.”
Hale went on tell Patton that she was being told first because she is “the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen and known all my life.” “My family doesn’t know what I’m about to do,” Hale continued. “One day this will make more sense. I’ve left more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen.”
Patton told WTVF that Hale had previously spoken to others about feeling suicidal so she knew to take the messages seriously. At her father’s instruction, Patton said she contacted the Suicide Prevention Help Line at 10:08 a.m. before calling the Nashville Davidson County Sheriff’s Office five minutes later. They in turn told her to call Nashville’s non-emergency line, Patton said.
“I called Nashville’s non-emergency line at 10:14 a.m. and was on hold for nearly seven minutes before speaking with someone who said that they would send an officer to my home,” Patton said. “An officer did not come to my home until 3:29 p.m.”
Patton said she shared Hale’s messages because she thinks officials should have responded to her information with more urgency. “After phone calls from friends and Audrey’s name was released as the shooter at Covenant Nashville school, I learned that Audrey was the shooter and that she had reached out to me prior to the shooting,” Patton said. “My heart is with all of the families affected and I’m devastated by what has happened.”
Nashville Police have identified the adult victims of Monday’s shooting as Mike Hill, 61, Cynthia Peak, 61, and Katherine Koonce, 60. The children were named as Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, all 9 years old.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. You can also text or dial 988.