Audrey Hale, the trans-male suspect who opened fire at The Covenant School and killed three children and three adults, was once a student at the school. Prior to the shooting, Hale reached out to a friend and former basketball teammate at the school, according to a new report.
WTVF in Nashville is reporting on this new development, and their story is even more tragic than it sounds.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — At 9:57 a.m., a former middle school basketball teammate of Audrey Hale looked at her phone to find a message from The Covenant School shooter on Instagram.
Averianna Patton said she saw the message that Hale planned to die by suicide and that Patton would see it on the news. In the messages Patton provided to NewsChannel 5, Hale told Patton she would see her again in another life. Hale told Patton about no longer wanting to live and the need to die.
“One day this will make more sense,” Hale wrote. “I’ve left behind more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen.”
When Patton told Hale that she “had so much more life to live,” Hale responded with “I know but I don’t want to live. I’m so sorry. I’m not trying to upset you or get attention. I just need to die.”
Patton ended up calling the police at 10:14 a.m., she said, but was referred to the department’s “non-emergency number.”
Hale died in a confrontation with police at 10:27 a.m.
“I called Nashville’s non-emergency line at 10:14 a.m. and was on hold for nearly seven minutes before speaking with someone who said that they would send an officer to my home. An officer did not come to my home until 3:29 p.m.,” Patton said.
Patton said she wanted to come forward about this circumstance because she believed more urgency should have happened when she reached out to officials for help.
The Covenant School was one of two targets Hale was planning to attack, though she gave up on the other target after doing a “threat assessment” and realizing it had too much security. Hale had maps of the school, and police said she left behind writings.
“After phone calls from friends and Audrey’s name was released as the shooter at Covenant Nashville school, I learned that Audrey was the shooter and that she had reached out to me prior to the shooting,” Patton told WTVF. “My heart is with all of the families affected and I’m devastated by what has happened.”
It’s impossible based on what we currently know to say for sure what caused Hale to do what she did. While police have mentioned writings, there isn’t any information more specific. What we know is that this was planned out and that Hale did not want to live, according to those texts to Patton.
Currently, our country is undergoing a mental and emotional health crisis that is often underreported, or ignored in favor of the hard news stories we get daily. But it takes a level of social and emotional detachment to decide to open fire in a crowded place and kill people, much less a school with kids. That is not the behavior of someone who is well. That is the behavior of someone who has lost all connection with the world around them.
Evil isn’t always a mental illness. Sometimes, evil is just evil. But in this case, what this person was going through was clearly something deeply troubling, and felt there was no way out. Why she chose a school is still unknown. Why she seems to have chosen suicide by cop is still unknown. But these are not the actions of someone who was rational, and it’s important that we as a society get better at recognizing this.
If you or someone you know is going through a crisis and you don’t know what to do, call your local authorities and seek help.
If you are currently experiencing suicidal thoughts, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States. To call, dial 988.
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