NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville authorities have released dozens of 911 calls and recordings of emergency dispatches that paint a picture of the chaos, confusion, and fear inside a shooting at The Covenant School on Monday that left three children and three staff members dead.
“I’m hearing rapid fire,” one man, who identified himself as a pastor, said. “Oh Lord Jesus, help us. Protect us, Lord.”
“We need somebody fast,” another caller, who was standing outside, said. “There’s people stuck inside.”
At 10:16 a.m., a caller spoke in a whisper. “Is help coming? Please tell me,” she said. “I’m pregnant. I’m 21 weeks pregnant.”
Others made similar pleas to dispatchers to hurry as they reported dozens of shots ringing out while students and teachers sheltered in their classrooms.
“We are sending the cavalry, trust me, we understand the situation,” a dispatcher reassured one caller.
The earliest call was logged at 10:12 a.m. After that, dozens more poured in for about 30 minutes. In total, the Metro Department of Emergency Communications released 26 recordings. Nearly all were punctuated by the incessant sound of blaring alarms.
“Someone must have pulled the fire alarm,” one caller said.
At one point, a woman calling from the nursery in the building said that an employee or two may be carrying weapons, but said the school does not have security staff.
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‘I want to go home’
A call at around 10:13 a.m. came from a woman who said she was in a closet of the art room in the school. She was speaking in a whisper, her voice quavering, as she gently shushed students around her.
“I want to go home,” a child whimpered in the background.
The woman tried to describe what she was hearing. The sound of blaring alarms was in the background, along with a few sniffles and people gently shushing one another. Partway through the call, the woman said she heard more shots ringing out.
“Please hurry,” the woman said. “I’m hearing more shots.”
One call came in from a man who said he was walking with a group of several children. Other voices could be heard in the background as they tried for several minutes to describe where the school was located and what part of the building the shooter was in.
The caller, and the people with him, described a white man dressed in camouflage clothing holding an assault rifle and shooting through a door to get into the school. They also said the shooter appeared to be wearing some kind of vest.
They said they believed the shooter was last seen in the second-grade hallway on the south side of the building. The dispatcher asked how many shots they thought they heard.
“A lot,” a woman responded. “A lot of shots. I heard about 10 and I left the building.”
Just before the call hung up, people could be heard saying they wanted to get kids into a car.
After police were already in the building, a teacher called from a closet she said she was sheltering in with 28 students and two colleagues. A man claiming to be a police officer was outside the door, telling them they were sweeping the building, but the teacher called 911 to confirm the man was who he said he was.
“They’re sweeping the building, but I’m not going to come out with my kids unless he is indeed a police officer,” the teacher said calmly.
Police later identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who was fatally shot by officers less than 15 minutes after the first call.
Three students, all 9 years old, were killed: Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney. Three adult staff members were also killed: Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school; substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61; and Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian.
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Contributing: Diana Leyva, Keith Sharon, Kirsten Fiscus, Molly Davis, Nick Gray, Melissa Brown, Ayrika Whitney, Cassandra Stephenson, and Liz Schubauer, USA TODAY Network; The Associated Press