Police are saying they believe the person who killed six in a mass shooting yesterday at a Christian elementary school in Nashville may have been transgender.
Authorities say that the shooter entered the Covenant School, which is Presbyterian, armed with two “assault-style” weapons and a handgun.
Three adults and three children were killed in the shooting. The victims were student Evelyn Dieckhaus (age nine), student Hallie Scruggs (age nine), student William Kinney (age nine), substitute teacher Cynthia Peak (age 61); head of school Katherine Koonce (age 60), and custodian Mike Hill (age 61).
“We have to do more to stop gun violence ripping our communities apart,” President Joe Biden said, reiterating his call for Congress to pass an assault weapon ban. “It’s ripping the soul from this nation.”
The shooter has been identified as Audrey Hale, 28, and he is a former student of the school who investigators say had “some resentment… for having to go to that school.” He had no criminal record and his motive is not yet clear.
“We have a manifesto, some writings that we’re going over,” Nashville chief of police John Drake said.
Hale was killed by police officers.
Drake said that Hale is transgender. His LinkedIn profile lists he/him pronouns. An unnamed source close to Hale’s family told the Daily Beast that he “relatively recently announced she was transgender, identifying as he/him.” That source also said that Hale was autistic.
When a reporter asked Drake if Hale’s identity may have played a part, he responded: “There is some theory to that.”
HRC, in a statement, said that trans and nonbinary people are still more likely to be the victims of violence.
“We still don’t know all of the facts about what happened in Nashville,” the statement says. “We do know that every study available shows that transgender and nonbinary people are much more likely to be the victims of violence, rather than the perpetrator of it.”
The Trans Journalists Association said in a statement that the shooter’s pronouns and the police statement don’t mean that Hale was actually transgender.
“No other information has been released, and it is unclear how the police came to that determination” that Hale is trans, the statement says.
“The TJA’s guidance is to not assume someone is cisgender or transgender based on their appearance, gender presentation, or pronouns. Police reports, public documents, or statements from family members can likewise incorrectly identify a person’s gender. Even social media profiles can be misleading, outdated, or incomplete.”
The Gun Violence Archive says that there have been 131 mass shootings so far in the United States.