In the latest outbreak of gun violence to shake the United States, a heavily armed 28-year-old woman killed three children and three members of staff at a private elementary school in Nashville on Monday before being shot dead by police.
According to Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron, the shooter entered the Christian Covenant School through a side door and opened fire with at least two assault rifles and a handgun.
The assailant, who police believe was a former student at the school, fired multiple shots as she made her way through the building.
Officers were on the scene within about 15 minutes of receiving the first emergency call around 10:00 am (1500 GMT), engaging the shooter who returned fire before she was shot dead, Aaron said.
School shootings are alarmingly common in the United States, where the proliferation of firearms has soared in recent years, though female shooters are extremely rare.
There was no initial indication of a motive for the Nashville attack.
President Joe Biden described the latest shooting as “sick” and said gun violence was tearing the nation’s “soul,” as he urged Congress to pass a ban on the assault weapons commonly used in mass shootings.
“It’s ripping our communities apart, ripping the soul of this nation, ripping at the very soul of the nation,” he said.
Police spokesman Aaron said officials were still working to identify the three students and three adults killed in the attack, as well as the shooter.
He said there were no other injuries.
“All of the remaining students were able to be escorted out of the building with faculty and staff,” Kendra Loney of the Nashville fire department said.
“But we are sure that they heard the chaos that was surrounding this, so we do have mental health specialists and professionals that are at that reunification site for both the students and the families.”
The Covenant School is a private Presbyterian institution with a little more than 200 students in preschool to roughly age 12. The adult victims were among 40 to 50 staff at the school.
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