Three nine-year-old children and three adults arrived at the Covenant School, a small, private Christian academy in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday for what appeared to be a normal day of school.
Before noon, all six had been killed – the victims of a shooter who terrorized the school with multiple firearms before being shot dead by police.
The alleged perpetrator, Audrey E Hale, was a 28-year-old former student, police have said.
Mass shootings are shockingly common in America. The Nashville shooting was the 129th mass shooting in the US so far this year, according to the non-profit Gun Violence Archive, and the 13th school shooting this year that caused injuries or death, according to Education Week.
Here is what is known so far about the six fatal victims:
Evelyn Dieckhaus, nine, was a student in the third grade. At a vigil for the victims, according to the Tennessean, her two-years-older sister was seen crying and saying: “I don’t want to be an only child.”
Hallie Scruggs, nine, was a student in the third grade and the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian church, the school’s sponsor. His daughter was “such a gift”, Scruggs said in a statement. “We are heartbroken … Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus, who will raise her to life once again.”
William Kinney, nine, was a student at the Covenant school.
Katherine Koonce, 60, a native of Louisiana who held a doctorate in education, was the head of school since 2016. People saw her as a “remarkable woman” with a “bright spirit”, according to ABC News. She was “strong and steady and hilarious” with an “amazing sense of humor”, ABC quoted Sissy Goff as saying. “I can’t imagine a better head of a school.” A parent of two children at the school told the BBC that Koonce “did so much for those kids” and “now gave her life protecting them”. She “knew every single student by name,” the parent added. “She did everything to help them when families couldn’t afford things, it didn’t matter. She found ways for them to stay.”
Michael “Mike” Hill, 61, had been a custodian at Covenant for more than 13 years. He saw the people there “as his family”, ABC News reported. “Today my dad lost his life,” his daughter wrote on Facebook, at a “job that everyone knows he absolutely loved. I have watched school shootings happen over the years and never thought I would lose a loved one over a person trying to solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution.” Tim Dunavant, a Methodist pastor who told the BBC that he first hired Hill more than a decade earlier, said that he would miss Hill’s “encouraging texts out of the blue” and that he would not be surprised if Hill had sacrificed himself to save others because “he’s the kind of guy that would do that”.
Cynthia Peak, 61, was a substitute teacher. She was raised in Leesville, Louisiana, according to KALB, and graduated from Texas Christian University. She had a husband and three children.