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Nashville school shooting victims are remembered at a solemn vigil

In remembrance of the three children and three adults killed in a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil.
Posted at 1:26 PM, Mar 30, 2023

Nashville city leaders held a public vigil Wednesday for the six people killed this week at the Covenant School.

"Our heart is broken; our city united as we mourn together," said Mayor John Cooper.

"I have cried and continued to cry, and have prayed for Nashville as well," said police chief John Drake.

The vigil came days after a school shooting left six people dead.

The shooting happened Monday at the Covenant School, located in the Green Hills area of Nashville, an upscale neighborhood and one of the most desirable places to live in Nashville.

"Parents sent their children to school on Monday morning, expecting them to return home like any other day. Unfortunately, three of those children and three staff members did not," said Councilman Russ Pulley.

"Just two days ago was our city’s worst day," said the mayor.

One of the six people who lost their lives, 60-year-old Baton Rouge native Katherine Koonce, was head of the Presbyterian school since 2016. Friends recounted how she could be counted on when someone got sick or was in need.

People console and pay respect as they visit an entry to Covenant School which has become a memorial for victims

Police search for a motive in Nashville shooting

Nashville police say the shooter legally purchased seven guns over a two-year period.


Head custodian Mike Hill was also killed. A friend of his posted about how Hill would send people encouraging messages that would come out of the blue.

His daughter, Brittany Hill, said on social media, "I have watched school shootings happen over the years and never thought I would lose a loved one over a person trying to solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution."

Also killed on the staff was 61-year-old substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, who had plans to meet later with her friend, the wife of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

"Cindy was supposed to come over to have dinner with Maria last night after she filled in as a substitute teacher yesterday at the Covenant. Cindy, Maria, and Katherine Koonce were all teachers at the same school and have been family friends for decades," the governor said.

The three murdered children were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs.

Evelyn’s family called their 9-year-old a shining light in this world and said, "Our hearts are completely broken."

On a fund-raising page for William, the organizer called the boy an unflappable spirit.

Hallie Scruggs was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the lead pastor at the Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Among the mourners at the Nashville vigil Wednesday night was first lady Jill Biden.

Entertainers including Sheryl Crow and Margo Price and lawmakers from both parties stood together despite differences on gun control as a way to prevent further tragedies.

Still, there were calls for legislative action on guns.

"This is preventable. We're the only nation where this keeps happening," said one man.