Katherine Koonce, the Covenant School’s principal who was assassinated on Monday, went to tremendous measures to educate her pupils and staff for active-shooter scenarios and acted swiftly when a former student started fire.
According to Nashville City Councilman Russ Pulley, Koonce was in the midst of a virtual conference when the shooting began about 10:13 a.m.
According to a witness in the school, Katherine Koonce was on a Zoom call when she heard the first gunfire. She hung off the phone, got up, and ran straight for the gunman, Pulley, a retired FBI special agent, told on Tuesday that he did not know information about the subsequent incident.
Pulley said that she did what administrators and headmasters do: she safeguarded her students. In addition, she prepared the school by pursuing advanced-level active-shooter training, and according to witnesses on the scene, this routine – the specifics of which he cannot share – saved numerous lives.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said he couldn’t confirm what Koonce did, but she was discovered alone in a corridor.
Drake remarked that he’s sure there was a conflict – one can tell by the way she was laying in the hallway.
The pastor of West End Community Church, where Koonce was a member, John Bourgeois, informed the congregation of her death in a sermon on Monday.
Bourgeois wrote to church members, she offered her life in defense of the kids under her care.
Cynthia Peak, a 61-year-old substitute teacher, and Mike Hill, a 61-year-old janitor, were both slain in the incident.
Hill, the custodian, was shot and died after the gunman fired a hail of bullets through the barred glass doors to gain entry to the school, according to Drake.
He does not yet know the specifics. Yet he has a sense that, in the end, Mike’s sacrifice saved lives. He has no evidence to back that up but he simply knows what type of person he was. And he simply knows he’s the kind of man who would do something like that, Tim Dunavant, pastor of Hartsville First United Methodist Church, stated in an online article on Monday that he employed Hill at the Covenant School 13 years ago.
An anonymous school staffer greeted police officer Rex Engelbert outside the school as soon as he arrived.
The kids are all locked down, but they have two kids they don’t know where they are, the staffer can be heard saying on body-camera video as she describes the layout of the facility to cops.
Engelbert led a group of cops inside the school, armed with information from the instructor and a gun, and rapidly began cleaning classrooms. The attacker started fire on other responding cops from the second level minutes after arriving. Officers raced upstairs in response to the sounds of gunshots and apprehended the gunman, who was equipped with two rifles and a pistol.
Teachers and officials took children to a reunion location at Woodmont Baptist Church after the situation had been secured.
Pulley added, he was there and witnessed them handle the kids gently as if it were another day at school. The staff became emotional once all of the kids were reunited with their parents. However, when they had their kids, they were doing what teachers and administrators do best: taking care of them. And those kids appeared to be doing the best they could given the situation.
According to National Police Association representative Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, the body-camera film shows cops and school personnel working together to avert an even more catastrophic disaster.
Some individuals are attracted to particular vocations that need panic resistance, such as teachers, physicians, nurses, police, firemen, and street reporters. Teachers fall into this group, Smith said.
So one had the police reaction, and then one had these instructors who had clearly been taught and had discussed this. And they worked so effectively with the cops, providing the appropriate information at the right moment while plainly putting themselves in danger. They also have three adults who have died.
William Kinney, Hallie Scruggs, and Evelyn Dieckhaus, all 9 years old, were also slain in the incident.
Audrey Hale, 28, performed surveillance of the school before travelling there on Monday morning and opening fire. Afterwards, police discovered hand-drawn blueprints with specific entrance locations to the structure, as well as a manifesto that may have revealed the purpose.
Hale lawfully purchased seven weapons from five separate Nashville gun retailers, three of which were used in the Monday shooting.
Investigators believe Hale chose the Covenant School, which she attended years ago, but they do not believe she particularly selected individual victims.