A heavily armed former student killed six people, including three children, in a pre-planned attack on a private elementary school in Nashville, in the southern United States, before being shot dead by police.
Nashville Police Chief John Drake identified the suspect as 28-year-old Audrey Hill, later identified as transgender.
Drake added that Hill had left behind a school manifest and maps detailing checkpoints, entry and exit points and was “prepared to deal with the police”.
In an interview with NBC News, he revealed that the suspect was likely planning a larger attack, as the statement “indicates that there will be shootings in multiple locations, including a school.”
According to police, Hill entered through the side entrance of The Covenant School, a Christian academy, armed with at least two assault rifles and a handgun during the shootout.
Police said six victims were aged six and two were nine, while the three adults who died were aged between 60 and 61.
One of the victims was Katherine Kunz, president of the school, according to the academy’s website.
Confusion surrounded the suspect’s gender identity, and although officers used the word “he” to refer to him, his LinkedIn account identified him as male.
Police said their officers arrived at the scene just 15 minutes after receiving the first emergency call at around 10:00 (15:00 GMT) that the gunman was involved.
Television footage showed boys walking out of school hand in hand and a girl crying from the window of a school bus pulling away from the scene of the crime.
Avery Merrick said her mother, who works as a teacher at The Covenant, ran for cover when she heard the gunshots.
“He was hiding in the closet and there was gunfire everywhere,” he told NBC affiliate WSMV4.
Merrick described being relieved when he got a call from his mother to let him know she was all right, but added that “there’s still a sense of pain for those who didn’t get that call.”
The US president called the shooting an “atrocity” and stressed that armed attacks “destroy the soul” of the United States.
In a speech at the White House, Biden said, “This is an abominable act,” warned that gun violence is “destroying the soul of our nation,” and again called on Congress to ban the sale of automatic weapons to individuals.
Several Tennessee lawmakers expressed their shock on social media.
“Deeply saddened by the tragic elementary school news,” Republican Senator Bill Hagert wrote on Twitter.
And the United States, where the number of licensed weapons is about 400 million firearms, often witnesses bloody shootings, including in schools.
The worst attack occurred in 2012 by a psychopath at a Connecticut elementary school, killing 20 children aged 6 and 7.
This tragic incident was repeated in May 2022, when an 18-year-old youth fatally shot 19 students and teachers at Uvalde Elementary School in Texas.
Between the two shootings, the February 14, 2018 massacre at a Florida high school in Parkland sparked a nationwide youth-led movement to demand stricter oversight of individual firearms licenses in the United States.
Despite the participation of more than a million protesters, the US Congress has not passed ambitious laws because many lawmakers are swayed by the larger US gun lobby.
And in a country where millions of Americans consider gun ownership a constitutional right, the only recent legislative advances are fringe ones like criminal background checks and the generalization of psychological evaluations before gun purchases.
I’m Jackson Smith, a news writer for the website News Unrolled. I specialize in world news, as my recent articles have covered topics such as global politics and international economics. My work has been featured in major publications like The Guardian, Forbes, and Reuters. I also have experience working with small media outlets all over the world.