The police revealed on Tuesday that the author of a massacre in a Christian school in Nashville had seven firearms and was being followed for psychiatric problems, a cocktail at the heart of many tragedies in the United States.
“Audrey Hale had legally purchased seven firearms from five local gun shops,” local police chief John Drake said at a news conference. Three pieces of his arsenal – two assault rifles and a pistol – were used Monday morning to sow death in the “Covenant School”, a small private school located south of the capital of Tennessee.
Still no mobile
Audrey Hale, who had been educated as a child in this establishment, was shot dead by police after killing three 9-year-old students and three school employees, including the director. After describing him as a young woman, law enforcement clarified that he was a 28-year-old transgender person, who used male pronouns to describe himself on the internet. The shooter was “under the care of a doctor for emotional problems” but was completely unknown to the police, said John Drake, without giving further details. “We still don’t have a motive,” he said.
The day before, he had mentioned a “targeted” attack against the “Covenant School”, detailed plans of which were found at the attacker’s home, and mentioned a possible “resent” against this school which defends traditional religious values.
John Drake had also acknowledged “the existence of theory” around the gender identity of the aggressor. “We are following all the leads and when we are fixed, we will keep you informed,” he added.
“No more harm”
Clarifications may come from writings left by Audrey Hale. During a search of his home, the police found a document which they described as a “manifesto”. Just before the action, the young shooter had also sent a message to an acquaintance to inform him that “something bad” was going to happen. “One day it will be clearer,” Audrey Hale wrote, according to local channel WTVF. “I left enough evidence behind me.”
His interlocutor, Averianna Patton, had contacted the police at 10:13 a.m. (3:13 p.m. GMT) but was only contacted again after the tragedy. Almost at the same time, Audrey Hale broke into her old school by shooting through a glass door. CCTV footage, released by police, shows a heavily armed figure, with a red scarf over his head, advancing through the building.
The police published this Tuesday the video of the intervention which put an end to the carnage. Filmed by the pedestrian cameras of two agents, the images show the police advancing in the corridors decorated with children’s drawings and shooting several times at Audrey Hale, who collapses. He was pronounced dead at 10:27 a.m. According to the police, he had a large stockpile of ammunition and was “prepared to do more harm”.
” Broken heart “
In Nashville, the population was in shock. “We’ve heard of the shootings, but it’s different when it’s on your doorstep,” Stacie Wilford, a nurse who came to pray Monday evening at an improvised altar in memory of the victims, told AFP. “We are heartbroken,” said the family of a young victim, Evelyn Dieckhaus, in a statement, whom they described as “a ray of sunshine”.
The political class shared this emotion but was again divided on the role of firearms: Democratic President Joe Biden renewed his call to ban assault rifles, an option vigorously rejected by elected Republicans.
About 400 million firearms are in circulation in the United States, where in 2020 they caused more than 45,000 deaths by suicide, accident or homicide, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) .
For the first time that year, weapons became the leading cause of death among young people under the age of 19, with 4,368 deaths, ahead of car accidents and overdoses, according to the CDC. Despite everything, a majority of Americans remain very attached to carrying arms, in the name of the right to self-defense, and several voices have been raised to regret that there were no armed employees in the school.