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Body cam footage from Nashville police shows fatal confrontation with school shooter


Police have now released body camera footage of yesterday's attack on a Nashville elementary school. The video shows officers' encounter with the shooter who killed three children and three adults at the Covenant School. Here with the latest in the investigation is Chas Sisk, senior editor with Nashville member station WPLN. Chas, welcome.


FLORIDO: Can you describe a bit more of what the bodycam footage shows and what it tells us about the shooting?

SISK: Yeah. So the body camera footage, which was released this morning - it's very harrowing. And it shows about a three-minute encounter from the time that officers entered the building until the assailant was killed. I think one of the things that it shows clearly is that the assailant was either shot by officers or at least died during the encounter in the hallway, which took place on the second floor. And what you see in this video is officers very quickly and methodically going from classroom to classroom.

It's also important what you don't see, which is children in any of the rooms as police are searching the building, which probably speaks to how well drilled the school was in what to do during a school shooting. Also, you see the teachers interacting with the officers, and they seem to be very well-prepared. They're able to give officers, as they arrive, clear instructions on where the children are and to share some information on where the assailant might be.

FLORIDO: Have we learned any more about the assailant's motive?

SISK: You know, police say they have some documents and maps that lay out the plan, but they really aren't sure what the motive is, or at least they're not willing to say what that is. What we do know is that the suspect was a 28-year-old named Audrey Hale. Hale is a former student of the school. And yesterday, the police searched Hale's family home, which was about three miles from the school. Police are saying today that what they found was that Hale had a total of seven weapons and that they were all legally obtained from five gun stores in Nashville. They also say that Hale's family thought that Hale shouldn't have any guns, but they knew that Hale had one, and that three of those guns were used in the shooting, and the others might have been hidden in the home.

FLORIDO: I know that there have been some vigils and also demonstrations. How is the community reacting?

SISK: Well, a handful of churches did open their doors last night for community vigils. It's worth noting that the Green Hills neighborhood, which is the part of Nashville where this happened - it's a major center for religious life in Nashville. There are a lot of churches with Christian schools attached to them in this part of town. I do expect there'll be more community vigils over the next few days. But, you know, the bigger reaction appears to be political. This is a state where Republicans have been rolling back gun laws pretty aggressively. And ever since Sandy Hook a decade ago, the push has been to make guns more available. So, you know, one of the first public gatherings that we've seen in reaction to the shooting was actually organized by Moms Demand Action, which held a rally at the Capitol earlier today.


HEIDI CAMPBELL: What kind of a civilization does not defend their children?





CAMPBELL: I'm worried that this is going to be another one of those news cycles where everybody is very upset for a couple of days until the next big thing happens.

SISK: So that was Heidi Campbell - she's a state senator who represents the area - speaking in favor of some tighter gun laws. And also, you're seeing something similar from Nashville's music community. A lot of them are speaking out, some of them noting that their own children attend nearby schools.

FLORIDO: Now, Chas, who were the victims? Have we learned anything more about them?

SISK: What we know about the victims, again, is that there were three children. All of them are believed to be age 9. We now know that one was the daughter of the lead minister of the church that's attached to Covenant School. And we also know that the adult victims were the head of the school, a custodian who worked there and a substitute teacher.

FLORIDO: I understand that you live in this neighborhood. What has it been like covering this story?

SISK: Yeah. It's been, I mean, very sobering to see these images where you live and are every day. And I've lived in Green Hills for 16 years. And, you know, my own kids went to a preschool at one of the churches in the area. And I'd say this because I think it's important to understand how Nashville functions. This illustrates that. You know, it's a big city, but it very much works like a small town. And so if people don't know someone directly impacted by the shooting, they very likely know someone who does. And we've already heard from a lot of those people here at WPLN who have personal connections to the victims. And one thing that they're talking about is just how closely connected this school is to - with the state's political leaders. And I have to wonder whether that's had an impact on the conversation about guns going forward.

FLORIDO: All right. I've been speaking with Chas Sisk with WPLN in Nashville. Chas, thank you.

SISK: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SAMANTHA BARRON SONG, "SIN MI") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Chas joined WPLN in 2015 after eight years with The Tennessean, including more than five years as the newspaper's statehouse reporter.Chas has also covered communities, politics and business in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Chas grew up in South Carolina and attended Columbia University in New York, where he studied economics and journalism. Outside of work, he's a dedicated distance runner, having completed a dozen marathons