NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than 300 people mourned the loss of three children and three adults Wednesday at a citywide candlelight vigil in the heart of Nashville.
The vigil was held to honor the victims of the Covenant School mass shooting — who were killed earlier this week by a trans-identifying former student — and hundreds of locals and visitors joined together to pay their respects. First Lady Jill Biden was also in attendance at the vigil, which took place at One Public Square Park.
Among the others in attendance were speakers Nashville Mayor John Cooper, Metro Council member Russ Pulley, State Rep. Rev. Harold Love Jr., Metro Nashville police Chief John Drake, Nashville fire chief William Swann, and Rev. Clay Stauffer of Woodmont Christian Church. A number of other clergy members and other state and local officials also attended.
“Many of us have hoped and prayed that these evil acts that we saw would never happen in Nashville,” Drake said. “We are grateful to the team of officers who rushed into the school building without hesitation Monday morning to locate and stop the threat before any more innocent victims were harmed.”
“Our police officers have cried, and are crying with Nashville, and the world. I have cried and continued to cry, and I have prayed for Nashville as well, ” he added.
The shooter, whom the Daily Wire will not name per company policy, was a white 28-year-old Nashville woman who recently identified as a man. She was stopped by Nashville police officers Rex Englebert and Michael Collazo who respectively fired three and four shots at her.
According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, the victims are Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all age 9, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, Covenant School head Katherine Koonce, 60, and custodian Mike Hill, 61.
“Members of the Covenant staff laid down their lives attempting to protect the children in their care. The preparation and actions of the Covenant staff most assuredly saved lives. Our community will continue to mourn the broken innocence of the Covenant school children and those who were lost to us,” city council member Pulley said.
Pulley, as The Daily Wire previously reported, was a former FBI agent who leapt into action when he learned of the school shooting. “I immediately went into that mode and went to the scene. But when I got there, I had to remember that I’m a councilman and not a police officer. I didn’t want to interfere … I went to the church to try to help however I could. I have an instinct to protect and serve, but I knew that wasn’t my role this time.”
Cooper remarked that the city needed to come together. “When words just can’t carry the weight of what is in our hearts, we must reach out to each other to help each other carry the load,” he said. “To think of all the hugs they would have had and all the hugs we can still give each other.”
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee responded to the shooting on Tuesday night, calling it a “tragedy beyond comprehension.”
“All of Tennessee was hurt yesterday, but some parents woke up without children, children woke up without parents and without teachers, and spouses woke up without their loved ones,” Lee said, adding that his wife, Maria, woke up this morning without one of her best friends, Cindy Peak — one the six victims killed during the mass shooting.
Peak, a Louisiana native, filled in as a substitute teacher for the school, and was said to have been a strong Christian.
“She had an unwavering faith in Christ,” Bill Broyle, brother, told The Tennessean. “She was a strong believer. She would want a positive approach on this to help God’s kingdom on earth.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) told reporters on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe Congress can solve mass shootings in the nation.
“We’re not gonna fix it,” he told reporters Tuesday. “Criminals are gonna be criminals,” he continued, adding that Congress would only “mess things up” and that action would better be spent trying to “change people’s hearts.”
Police have not yet officially announced a motive but the shooter left a manifesto behind which indicated that in addition to targeting The Covenant School, she had also considered other locations to attack.