(Washington) Three children and three adults were shot Monday in an elementary school in Nashville, in the south of the United States, a tragedy that has reopened the debate on the ravages of firearms in this country.
According to local police chief John Drake, the bloodbath was committed by Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old transgender person, who was promptly killed by law enforcement.
His services later clarified to local newspaper The Tennessean that it was a transgender man – born female but who identifies as male.
The assailant entered in the middle of the morning, armed with two assault rifles and a pistol, on the premises of a small private Christian school, “The Covenant School”, where he was educated.
After crossing the ground floor, he headed for the first floor firing numerous shots. Three students, ages 8 to 9, and three adults, ages 60 to 61, were killed by his bullets.
Quickly dispatched to the scene, officers immediately shot the suspect, who was pronounced dead at 10:27 a.m., fifteen minutes after the first call for help, according to police spokesman Don Aaron.
During the assault, one of the teachers managed to call her daughter. “She told me she was hiding in a closet and it was shooting everywhere,” the latter, Avery Myrick, told local channel WSMV4.
Relieved that her mother made it out alive, Avery Myrick said she “hurts for everyone” who lost loved ones in the carnage.
Anxious parents marched all day through a church to pick up the sheltered children.
Police conducted a search of Audrey Hale’s home and discovered a map “showing the entrances” to the school and a “manifesto”, John Drake said, suggesting the attack was premeditated.
While praising law enforcement for their quick response, President Joe Biden expressed his dismay at the “repugnant” crime.
Gun violence “rips at the very soul of our nation,” he commented from the White House, calling again on Congress to ban assault rifles.
The Democrat has long pleaded for the US Parliament to prohibit, or at least restrict, the possession of these weapons designed to cause maximum casualties, but he comes up against the refusal of the opposition.
Republican elected officials from the state of Tennessee, of which Nashville is the capital, also expressed their emotion on social networks, being careful not to raise the sensitive subject of firearms.
“I am devastated and heartbroken at the tragic news from the Covenant School,” Republican Senator Bill Hagerty tweeted, while his colleague Marsha Blackburn called for “pray” for the victims.
About 400 million firearms are in circulation in the United States, where they caused more than 45,000 deaths in 2020, by suicide, accident or homicide, according to the latest figures published by the Centers for Prevention and diseases (CDC).
And for the first time that year, guns became the leading cause of death among young people aged 1 to 19, with 4,368 deaths, ahead of car accidents and overdoses, according to the CDC.
Bloodbaths in schools represent only a tiny portion of the total, but mark the spirits more.
The United States was particularly shaken by the carnage committed in 2012 in a school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut (20 children killed), and in May 2022 in Uvalde, Texas (19 children and two teachers).
Between these two tragedies, a massacre committed in 2018 in a high school in Parkland, Florida, had led to a vast mobilization. But Congress never adopted any significant reforms, many elected officials finding themselves under the influence of the powerful pressure group National Rifle Association (NRA) and being anxious not to displease a majority of Americans still very attached to the right to bear arms.
Joe Biden’s calls to ban assault rifles are hardly more likely to succeed. An ABC News/Washington Post poll from February showed that 51% of Americans oppose it and only 47% support it.