The Nashville school shooting victims are three 9-year-old elementary students and three staff members, including the head of the school, according to Nashville police. A beloved custodian and substitute teacher also died. One of the 9-year-olds was the daughter of a pastor at the church that runs The Covenant School.
The victims were identified by police on Twitter as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all 9, along with 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce and 61-year-old Mike Hill. Koonce was the head of school, according to her Facebook page.
Nashville police said in a written statement and news conference that a 28-year-old former student entered The Covenant School in Nashville on March 27, 2023, just after 10 a.m., and opened fire on the second floor. The suspect was killed by police, officials said.
Here’s what you need to know about the victims:
Katherine Koonce, 60
Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of school at The Covenant School, was among the victims killed in the shooting, police said. Dean Russ Crowe wrote a tribute to Koonce on Facebook.
“This beautiful soul, Katherine Koonce, taught me so much-two things I think about very often,” he wrote.
“She was the headmaster of the school in Nashville and one of the adults that was murdered. Today is such a tragedy. I know her entrance into heaven was abundant. But here we on earth we are devastated,” Crow said. “Please pray for her husband and family. And for all the families who thought today was just another Monday and counting down to Spring Break. It’s just horrible.”
On Facebook, Koonce wrote that she was “Head of School at The Covenant School” and “Former Academic Dean at Christ Presbyterian Academy.”
Koonce “studied Leadership and Professional Studies at Trevecca Nazarene University, studied “Masters Education at Georgia State University,” and studied at LSU and Vanderbilt University. She was from Brentwood, Tennessee, and lived in Brentwood, Tennessee. Her top visible post on Facebook was about her daughter’s engagement.
Koonce was quoted on the school’s website as saying, “At the Covenant School, we are about more than simply educating our students — we are participating in the miracle of their development and seeing them transform into who they will be. Impactful teaching methods and programs, daily all-school chapel, and school-wide service-learning are the backdrop for the real work — helping children become who God intends them to be.” The school’s motto is, “Shepherding Hearts, Empowering Minds, Celebrating Childhood.”
Mike Hill, 61
Mike Hill, 61, was also identified a victim killed in The Covenant School shooting. Hill was a custodian originally from Cleveland, Ohio, according to NBC News.
Tim Dunavant wrote on Facebook:
I didn’t want to say a name until it had been announced officially. And now, I’m not real sure what to say.
This picture is Mike Hill. He was the last employee that I hired when I ran the kitchen at the Covenant church and school. That was over 13 years ago. he was still working there today when he was shot and killed. I don’t know the details yet. But I have a feeling, when it all comes out, Mike’s sacrifice saved lives. I have nothing factual to base that upon. I just know what kind of guy he was. And I know he’s the kind of guy that would do that.
Goodbye Mike, I’m going to miss those encouraging texts out of the blue from you.
Megan Hill wrote on Facebook, “I’m just in shock and disbelief….. my heart is broken I do not understand why someone would shoot up a school with precious babies inside. My uncle lost his life in this shooting today ! My moms brother Lord help me and my family please pray for all my cousins😞💔 I love you uncle Mike please hug mama for me. In the same breath I want to Thank God thank my Bonus mom and my Dad and my Brother are all ok but lord I am speechless.”
Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9
Evelyn Dieckhaus, a 9-year-old student at The Covenant School, was identified by Nashville police as one of the victims killed in the shooting. A photo of Evelyn was not immediately available.
According to the Tennesseean, Dieckhaus was mentioned “at the end of a vigil at Woodmont Christian Church.”
Senior minister Clay Stauffer said that Evelyn was a third grader at Covenant, and he described how her fifth-grade sister, who will be baptized soon, cried and said, “I don’t want to be an only child.”
According to Daily Mail, Dieckhaus was killed while trying to pull a fire alarm.
Hallie Scruggs, 9
Hallie Scruggs, a 9-year-old student at The Covenant School and the daughter of a pastor at The Covenant Presbyterian Church, was among the victims killed in the shooting, police said.
According to WFAA, Hallie was the daughter “of a pastor who used to work at a North Texas church.”
Hallie “is the daughter of Chad Scruggs, who is a pastor at Covenant Presbyterian in Nashville. Scruggs was a former associate pastor at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas,” WFAA reported.
Chad Scruggs’ Facebook page says he “started New Job at Covenant Presbyterian Church” on September 1, 2018 as pastor.
William Kinney, 9
William Kinney, a 9-year-old student at The Covenant School, was identified by police as one of the victims of the shooting.
A GoFundMe page to help Kinney’s family says:
Our friends are walking through the unimaginable…losing their son at the Covenant School shooting. Will had an unflappable spirit. He was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others. He loved his sisters, adored his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and was always excited to host friends of every age. Sweet Will knew no strangers, and our hearts our broken for his family as they try to find their way forward.
Cynthia Peak, 61
Cynthia Peak, 61, was also identified as a victim of the shooting, according to Nashville police.
According to journalist Brooke Buford, Peak was a substitute teacher. “There are now two Louisiana ties to the Nashville school shooting today. Substitute teacher, Cynthia Peak, was from Leesville,” she tweeted.
Dene Williams wrote on Facebook, “When the names were finally read on TV this afternoon, it didn’t initially dawn on me that “Cynthia Peak” was my Mom Small Group friend, Cindy. I spent the better part of a year with these amazing ladies … praying, crying, encouraging, studying the word and lifting our kids up together. It was a huge gift. Cindy was loved and will be greatly missed. I know she is with Jesus and that helps our hearts. 💔🙏🏼”
Her Facebook page shows her name as Cindy Broyles Peak.