A principal, a janitor and a substitute teacher were among the victims of a shooting at a Nashville, Tennessee school that left six people dead. A 28-year-old former Covenant School student was killed in the attack on Monday, along with three staff members and three students. The three children, all nine years old, were named Evelyn Dickhouse, Halle Scruggs and William Kinney. The three employees who died were Cynthia Peak (61), Katherine Koonce (60) and Michael Hill (61). Police said they did not believe any of the victims were specifically targeted.
Katherine Koonce, the headmistress at Covenant, was a “saint” as one parent told BBC News. “She does a lot for these kids,” said the mother of two who attends Covenant. “She knows every student’s name,” she added. “When families can’t afford it, she goes out of her way to help them, but it doesn’t matter. She finds a way to keep them in.” On the school’s website’s welcome page, Ms Koonce wrote that the school is “more than just educate our students”.
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She said the school’s mission is “to help children become who God wants them to be”. She is also the author of the book God’s Parenting Style: Refusal to Repeat Your Parents’ Mistakes.
A biography on the Penguin Random House website says she has more than 18 years of experience and a master’s degree. According to the school website, Covenant School was established in 2001 as a division of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Michael Hill is the school janitor. His daughter Brittany Hill said he died doing a job he absolutely loved.
“Today my dad lost his life at Covenant School,” she shared in a Facebook post. “I’ve watched school shootings over the years and never thought I’d lose a loved one to someone who was trying to fix a temporary problem with a permanent solution.”
Hartsville First United Methodist Church pastor Tim Dunavant said he previously worked at Covenant and hired Mr. Hill 13 years ago. He said he would miss Mr Hill’s “those suddenly inspiring lyrics” and wouldn’t be surprised if Mr Hill gave his life to save others because “he’s the kind of guy who would do that” .
Cynthia Peak was working as a substitute teacher at the school on the day of the attack, police said. Among these children is Halle Scruggs, the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
The pastor called his daughter “such a gift” in a statement to ABC News. He also spoke about his belief that one day they will be reunited. “We are very sad,” he told the media. “We tearfully believe that she is in the arms of Jesus and that Jesus will raise her up.”