Suicide note, weapons found in Nashville shooter’s home, warrant shows

Apr 5, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 1:23 pm

Investigators found a suicide note when they executed a search warrant at the home of the shooter w...

Metro Nashville Police and FBI search and investigate a house in the 3000 block of Brightwood Ave. following a mass shooting at Covenant School, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. The shooter was killed by police on the scene. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)

(Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)

 (CNN) — Investigators found a suicide note when they executed a search warrant at the home of the shooter who killed six people at a Nashville school last week, along with more weapons and ammunition, according to an inventory of items seized.

The search warrant and the list of items found were released Tuesday, just over a week after the shooter, former student Audrey Hale, opened fire at The Covenant School, killing three 9-year-olds and three adults.

The warrant, executed the same day as the shooting, shows authorities also found several Covenant School yearbooks and a school photo, in addition to the shooter’s journals. Some of the journals are described as being related to “school shootings; firearm courses,” the list indicates.

A total of 47 items were seized, according to the list.

Hale, 28, fired 152 rounds in the attack, which was planned “over a period of months,” police said in a news release Monday. Hale “considered the actions of other mass murderers,” that release said, and “acted totally alone.”

Hale, who police said was under care for an emotional disorder, had legally purchased seven guns and hidden them at home, Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake previously said.

Hale was armed with three guns during the attack, which ended after Nashville officers arrived on the scene and confronted the shooter.

Two officers opened fire — a moment captured in bodycam footage later released by police — and killed Hale at 10:27 a.m., 14 minutes after the shooter entered the private Christian school, according to Nashville police spokesperson Don Aaron.

Police continue to work to determine a motive for the attack, but they said previously that writings left behind by Hale — which continue to be reviewed by police and the FBI — made clear it was “calculated and planned.”

Hale targeted the school and Covenant Presbyterian Church, to which the school is attached, police said, but it’s believed the victims were fired upon at random.

Those victims were Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs, all 9 years old, as well as school custodian Mike Hill, 61, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, and Katherine Koonce, 60, who was head of the school.

Officers came together to form team that tracked down shooter

Four police officers who responded to the shooting described to reporters Tuesday how their training guided them as they hunted the shooter.

Officer Rex Engelbert praised two staff members “who stayed on the scene and didn’t run.” They gave him the concise information he needed, as well as “the exact key I needed to enter the building,” he said.

Engelbert and Detective Sgt. Jeff Mathes became part of a team that cleared classrooms and searched for the shooter. When they reached the first-floor atrium they took gunfire from the shooter.

“We were still unsure where that was, but our job is to go towards it, so we went through a pair of double doors,” Mathes said.

Detective Michael Collazo, who heard the shooter might be on the second floor, joined the group.

“At some point around that time frame is when we started hearing the first shots … that’s when everything kind of kicked into overdrive for us, “Collazo said.

After they went up a stairwell and down a second-floor hallway, they encountered a victim on the floor.

“Doing what our training tells us to do in those situations and following the stimulus, all of us stepped over a victim. To this day, don’t know how I did that morally, but training is what kicked in,” Mathes said.

Smoke was filling the building and the fire alarm was blaring, Collazo said. Then there was a gunshot to their right.

He asked Engelbert, who had a scope on his rifle, to lead the team toward the gunshot. Engelbert said things were unfolding “very similar to the training we receive.”

“We then proceeded continually towards the sounds of gunfire and then once we got near the shooter, the shooter was neutralized,” Mathes said.

State reps face expulsion after Capitol protest

The school shooting — the deadliest since 21 people, including 19 children, were killed at a school in Uvalde, Texas, last May — renewed debate over the scourge of American gun violence, access to firearms and school safety, a fight that spilled over into the state legislature this week.

Tennessee House Republicans on Monday took steps toward expelling three Democratic state representatives who participated in protests at the state Capitol last Thursday calling for more gun control in the wake of the deadly mass shooting.

A vote on whether to expel the three members — Reps. Gloria Johnson of Knoxville, Justin Jones of Nashville and Justin Pearson of Memphis — is slated for Thursday, according to The Tennessean.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) or the Huntsman Mental Health Institute (1-801-583-2500).

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Suicide note, weapons found in Nashville shooter’s home, warrant shows