NASHVILLE, Tennessee – The former student of a Christian grade school in Nashville who killed three 9-year-olds and three adults in a shooting spree there was under a doctor’s care for an “emotional disorder” and had amassed a collection of guns, the city’s police chief said on Tuesday.
New details about assailant Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, emerged hours after police released harrowing video showing officers storming the Covenant School in the midst of Monday’s rampage and conducting a room-to-room search before confronting and fatally shooting Hale.
Authorities said they were still trying to pin down a motive as detectives pored over various writings and other evidence left by Hale.
Hale was armed with two assault-style weapons and a handgun, the latest in a long string of US mass shootings that have turned schools into killing zones and added fuel to a national debate over gun rights and regulations.
The three weapons used on Monday were among seven firearms that Hale had legally purchased in recent years from five Nashville-area stores, Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake told reporters on Tuesday.
Hale’s own parents did not know that Hale possessed multiple firearms, mistakenly believing that Hale had owned just one gun, then sold it, Drake said. The chief added that the mother and father felt Hale should not have owned any weapons due to mental health concerns.
The mother, on seeing Hale leave the house with a red bag Monday morning, had questioned what was in the bag, the chief said.
Hale “was under care, a doctor’s care, for an emotional disorder”, the chief told reporters during a news briefing, without elaborating.
Under Tennessee law, mental illness is not grounds for police to confiscate weapons, unless a person is deemed mentally incompetent by a court, “judicially committed to a mental institution”, or placed under a conservatorship “by reason of mental defect”.