(Reuters)—At least three children and three adults were killed in a shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday before police shot dead the shooter, who appeared to be a teenage girl.
Police began receiving calls of a shooter at The Covenant School at 10:13 a.m.. Officers could hear gunfire coming from the school's second floor, Don Aaron, a spokesperson for Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, told reporters.
The shooter had at least two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun, Aaron said. Two officers from a five-member team shot at her in what Aaron described as a lobby area and she was dead by 10:27 a.m..
"We do not know who she is at this juncture," Aaron said.
Deadly mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States, but a female attacker is highly unusual. Only four of the 191 mass shootings since 1966 catalogued by The Violence Project, a nonprofit research center, were carried out by a female attacker.
There have been 89 school shootings – defined as anytime a gun is discharged on school property – in the U.S. so far in 2023, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, a website founded by researcher David Riedman. Last year saw 303 such incidents, the highest of any year in the database, which goes back to 1970.
Three students were pronounced dead after arriving at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt with gunshot wounds, John Howser, a hospital spokesperson, said in a statement. Three adult staff members were killed by the shooter, police said.
Besides the deceased, no one else was shot, Aaron said.
Students' parents were told to gather at a nearby church.
The Covenant School, founded in 2001, is a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church in the Green Hills neighborhood of Nashville with about 200 students, according to the school's website. The school serves preschool through 6th graders and held an active shooter training program in 2022, WTVF-TV reported.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Additional reporting by Tyler Clifford, Rich McKay, Brad Brooks, Joseph Ax and Brendan O'Brien; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)