Nashville shooter Audrey Hale was receiving counseling sessions from the pastor whose nine-year-old daughter was killed in the Christian school massacre on Monday, a former pastor of the Covenant School has claimed, according to reports. Hale, the 28-year-old transgender was receiving private counseling from Chad Scruggs, the institution's current pastor.
His daughter Hallie Scruggs was one of the three children Hale shot dead during the massacre. On Monday, Hale, 28, opened fire at the Nashville-area private school, killing three students and three teachers. She was eventually shot dead by cops roughly 15 minutes after he started the carnage inside the school building.
Jim Bachmann, the school's former pastor, has now asserted that she was receiving private counseling sessions from Chad Scruggs, the institution's current pastor, according to a DailyMail.com report.
Although police say they still do not have an official motive for the incident, the revelations have now raised the question if Chad Scruggs was the actual target.
The outlet reported that Bachmann told InsideEdition that Hale may have been aiming for Pastor Scruggs' other three children. Police did claim that Hale had planned to attack more than one location, including a mall and another school.
Hale "appeared to be searching the school" for him, Bachmann said, adding that Pastor Scruggs had been giving her counseling session.
He wasn't present, though, and Bachmann theorized that if she had been able to locate Scruggs, Hale would have "left his daughter alone."
"I'm hearing he was providing counseling for her, and something didn't sit right with her, and so she targeted his daughter and perhaps his two sons that attend another private school," Bachmann said.
"If she'd found Chad and tried to kill him, maybe she would have left his daughter alone, I don't know. She was a very normal, happy-go-lucky little girl who liked to play kickball with the boys, and her parents were wonderful people."
Pastor Scruggs and his wife also share three sons older than Hallie, with at least one of having previously attended the Covenant.
It is not known where Pastor Scruggs was at the time of the shooting.
The two other children killed in the incident, William Kinney and Evelyn Dieckhaus, both 9 years old, have also received a torrent of tributes in addition to little Hallie.
Motive Still Unclear
The horrific shooting also claimed the lives of the headmistress, Dr. Katherine Koonce, 60, substitute teacher, Cynthia Peak, 61, and cook, Mike Hill, 61. According to a LinkedIn page, Hale used the names Audrey and Aiden, although her preferred pronouns were he/him.
She had previously attended the Nashville, Tennessee, school, the police said on Tuesday, but they did not know why she shot and killed people.
Hale was shot dead at The Covenant School before she could commit any more murders, according to the police, who also claim that she planned to attack a mall and family members.
Little is yet known about Hale's transformation from the "sweet" girl described by neighbors to the deadly shooter who wrote a killing manifesto and even created a cartoon depicting her attack strategy.
According to the police, she was being treated for an "emotional illness," and her parents believed she had given up using weapons.
They were aware that she once owned a single firearm, but they believed she had sold it.
Actually, Hale was stockpiling her arsenal. She made five distinct store visits and acquired seven guns in total.
She drove up to the Covenant School in her Honda Fit just before 10 am and started the massacre but was struck down by two hero officers Rex Englebert and Michael Collazo, and was dead by 10.27 am.
Moments before launching a deadly attack Hale sent an Instagram message to a friend revealing her deadly intentions. NewsChannel 5 reported that in an Instagram message sent to Averianna Patton, a former middle school basketball teammate, Hale said that she planned to die by suicide.
The message was sent at 9.57 am, minutes before the deadly shootout at the Christian school. Stating that Patton would see the report of her death on the news, Hale wrote, "So basically that post I made on here about you, that was basically a suicide note. I am planning to die today. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!! You'll probably heart about me on the news after I die. This is my last goodbye. I love you. See you again in another life." The message was signed as Audrey (Aiden)
Stating that she doesn't not want to live anymore and wants to die, Hale wrote, "One day this will make more sense. I've left behind more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen."
In another set of messages Hale revealed that her family is not aware of her actions. "I don't want to live. I am so sorry. I am not trying to upset you or get attention. I just need to die..... My family doesn't know what I'm about to do," read the message.
Speaking to the outlet, Patton said that she tried to comfort and encourage Hale before reaching out to the Suicide Prevention Help Line.
Stating that she also called the Nashville Davidson County Sheriff's Office at 10:13 a.m. only to be instructed to call Nashville's non-emergency number, Patton said, "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."
The killer's family is yet to speak publicly. Hale said in a message to a Patton that her parents were unaware of her plans.
Two more guns were recovered from her house in addition to the three weapons that were discovered at the scene. It is not known if they were also registered to Hale. According to police sources, Hale had 'high functioning' autism.