The head of the Nashville school who was killed on Monday by an ’emotionally disturbed’ former student reportedly ran towards the gunfire in a bid to save her pupils.
Dr. Katherine Koonce, the 60-year-old principal, was found lying dead inside a corridor, which Nashville police chief said indicated she had ‘a confrontation’ with Audrey Hale, a transgender 28-year-old.
Hale shot through the locked glass door at the entrance to The Covenant School at 10:13am on Monday, and the alarm was raised. Hale then began prowling for victims – chosen at random, police said and was seen on surveillance footage walking through the corridors, assault rifle in hand.
Russ Pulley, a member of Nashville city council and a former FBI agent, said Koonce tried to save her students.
‘The headmaster, Dr. Koonce, upon hearing the first shots, ran toward the danger,’ he wrote on Facebook. ‘She also made sure the school was prepared with active shooter training and protocols. Those actions saved countless lives.’
Pulley told Fox News Digital that Koonce was on a Zoom call when Hale burst in.
‘It is my understanding from a witness at the school, that Katherine Koonce was on a Zoom call when she heard the first shot,’ said Pulley.
‘She immediately ended the call, got up, and headed straight for the shooter. ‘She did what principals and headmasters do; she protected her children.
‘In addition, she prepared the school by seeking advanced level active shooter training and from witnesses at the scene, this protocol, details of which I cannot provide, saved countless lives.’
John Drake, the chief of Nashville police, said on Tuesday that he had no doubt she moved towards the danger – although he did not have precise details.
‘There was a confrontation, I’m sure – you can tell the way she was lying in the hallway,’ Drake said.
The pastor of Koonce’s church, West End Community Church, paid tribute to her sacrifice.
‘She gave her life in defense of the children under her care,’ said John Bourgeois, in a note sent to church members.
Two other school employees – Cynthia Peak, a 61-year-old substitute teacher, and Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian – were also killed in the shooting. Three nine-year-olds were killed.