Tennessee Governor Bill Lee addressed the state on Tuesday evening after six individuals were killed in the massacre at The Covenant School in Nashville.
A 28-year-old woman who identified as a man killed three 9-year-old children and three adults at the elementary school, a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, on Monday morning. Police officers revealed that the shooter, whom The Daily Wire will not name in accordance with company policy, executed a “targeted attack” on the school and had written a “manifesto.”
Lee said in a video address posted to social media that the state is grieving along with the parents and family members of the victims. “Some parents woke up without children,” he said. “Children woke up without parents, without teachers. Spouses woke up without their loved ones.”
Lee revealed that his own wife, Maria, was scheduled to have dinner on Monday evening with one of the victims, Cynthia Peak, who had worked at The Covenant School as a substitute teacher and was a lifelong friend of the first lady.
“Six innocent lives. Three of them were children. We’re enduring a very difficult moment. I understand there is pain, I understand the desperation to have answers, to place blame, to argue about a solution that could prevent this horrible tragedy,” Lee continued. “But this is not a time for hate or rage. That will not resolve or heal.”
Lee also praised the efforts of Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo, officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department who fired the fatal shots on the school shooter, and said he had the opportunity to speak with them. “While we saw the worst of humanity, we also saw the best of humanity: in the police officers who ran into danger directly toward a killer with no regard for their own lives,” he remarked. “Gratitude does not begin to cover it, for the utter selflessness of putting their lives between the killer and the innocent.”
The three students killed in the shooting were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, the daughter of Covenant Presbyterian Church senior minister Chad Scruggs. In addition to Cynthia Peak, Dr. Katherine Koonce, the school’s 60-year-old principal, was also killed, as was 61-year-old school custodian Mike Hill.
Lee called on the state to pray for the families of the victims and for Covenant Presbyterian Church, as well as the officers and the family of the shooter. “Prayer is the first thing we should do, but it is not the only thing,” the official said. “There will be a time to talk about the legislation and budget proposals we have brought forward this year. And clearly, there is more work to do.”
“There is hope in the midst of great tragedy because God is a Redeemer. What is meant for evil can be turned for good. May we grieve in the days ahead, but not without hope. May we also act with wisdom, discernment, and grace. And may we love, especially those who have lost.”
The Covenant School said on its website that it exists to help children “become who God intends them to be” and learn “timeless Truth” throughout their educational experience. “Our graduates attend the finest schools in the Nashville area, where they not only excel academically, but also act with character that comes from authentic faith in Jesus.”
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