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Police search for a motive in Nashville shooting

Nashville police say the shooter legally purchased seven guns over a two-year period.
Posted at 8:13 PM, Mar 29, 2023

A tragic and commonplace sight outside school mass shootings — people placing flowers and teddy bears near by. 

"What I say about her is that she could be right at home at a homeless shelter or right at home at the oval office," said Jim Lee, who knew victim Katherine Koonce. 

Friends of victims visited and asked again — why this could happen. 

"What has the world lost because she was taken from us? A powerhouse," Lee said. 

Jim and Monica Lee knew the head of Covenant School Katherine Koonce, who was among the three adult victims shot and killed in addition to three students.  

"She was a wonderful human being who was obviously rocking it at the school. And probably protecting when it happened," Monica Lee said. 

Police say the shooter, a 28 year old former student of the same school, parked outside and barged into the building by shooting through the front door after 10 a.m. on Monday.  

"This church building was a target of the shooter, but we have no information at present the suspect was targeting any one of the six individuals," said Don Aaron, the Nashville police spokesperson.

Actress Melissa Joan Hart

Melissa Joan Hart helps Nashville students to safety amid shooting

Actress Melissa Joan Hart says she and her husband helped a class of kindergarteners cross a busy highway as they were trying to escape to safety.


Police received 911 calls at 10:13 a.m. and officers responded within minutes. Five police officers cleared out students and staff to safety. Moments later, hearing gunfire, they approached and then confronted the suspect. 

Nashville’s police said the shooter legally purchased seven guns over a two-year period. Investigators recovered three of those off the suspect, including a .556 caliber high-velocity rifle. They said the suspect’s parents didn’t know how many weapons the shooter owned.  

"We know they felt she had one weapon and that she sold it. She was under care, doctors care for an emotional disorder. Law enforcement knew nothing about the treatment she was receiving but her parents felt that she should not own weapons, they were under the impression that when she sold the weapon that she did not own any more," said John Drake, the chief of police for the Nashville Police Department. 

In Tennessee’s nearby capitol, gun control activists decried the latest mass shooting on Tuesday. A lawmaker whose district includes the school says the state recently relaxed gun laws. 

"Yeah, we’re going in the opposite direction in this state. There are no red flag laws, we passed constitutional carry last year and we’re actually running bills right now to try and make it easier for people to get ahold of guns," said state Sen. Heidi Campbell.

Republicans like Tennessee Governor Bill Lee reject calls for stronger gun regulations, saying criminals do not follow laws. Instead, they blame mental illness and tout beefing up school security. 

"There will come a time to discuss and debate policy, but this is not a time for hate or rage that will not resolve or heal everyone is hurting everyone," Campbell said.  

Campbell says she doesn’t see Republican supermajorities in Tennessee embracing gun control any time soon.

"This state is one of the most liberal, I say that ironically, on gun laws and I think this shooting is — not surprising," she said.