Covenant School refutes claim Nashville shooter received counseling from school pastor

A sign sits outside Covenant Presbyterian Church - The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.
A sign sits outside Covenant Presbyterian Church - The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. | YouTube/FOX 10 Phoenix

A former pastor at the Christian school in Nashville where a trans-identified shooter killed three adults and three children corrected the record about his allegation that the assailant previously received counseling from the school's current pastor. 

In a statement provided to The Daily Mail Thursday, a spokesperson for The Covenant School confirmed that its Pastor Chad Scruggs "was not counseling the shooter" and stressed that police have been clear "that no one was targeted in the shooting."

The need for clarification came after former Covenant School Pastor Jim Bachman made headlines after he said in a Wednesday interview with Inside Edition he had heard Scruggs was privately counseling the shooter, Audrey Hale, 28.

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Hale, who identified as a man, was a former student at the school. 

Based on surveillance footage released by police, Bachman surmised that Hale could have been searching for the current pastor on the day of the shooting. He believed that the shooter might have targeted Scruggs due to a disagreement that the pair had during a counseling session. 

The former pastor also speculated that Hale may have intended to kill Scruggs' other children, including his two boys who attend another private school. Since Scruggs was not present during the shooting, Bachman suggested that Hale may not have shot his daughter if she had succeeded in finding him.

"She was a very normal, happy-go-lucky little girl who liked to play kickball with the boys, and her parents were wonderful people," Bachman said, saying he knew Hale when she attended the school over 20 years ago. 

However, Bachman told The New York Post Thursday that his previous statement was incorrect. He said there was some "confusion," as Hale had received counseling years ago, but Scruggs was not counseling her. 

"But these last two days, I've had several messages from an assortment of people that not only was there no counseling between those two, that he didn't even know her," Bachman said.

The Covenant Christian school reached out to the former pastor, informing him that Scruggs was not counseling Hale and that he did not know the shooter. Bachman told The Post that his thoughts on the shooting were influenced by social media and his perception of the surveillance footage. 

The shooting occurred Monday morning at The Covenant School, claiming the lives of school head Katherine Koonce, 60, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, and chef Mike Hill, 61. The three children murdered by the shooter were Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, William Kenney, 9, and Hallie Scruggs, 9, who is also the daughter of the school's current pastor, Chad Scruggs. 

The Covenant School is affiliated with the Covenant Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America.

As The Christian Post reported Monday, authorities discovered that Hale had a detailed map of the school. Hale was armed with two "assault-type rifles and a handgun." 

Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said that the shooter gained entry into the school by shooting through one of the doors. 

"We have a manifesto. We have some writings that we're going over that pertain to this day, the actual incident. We have a map drawn out about how this was all going to take place," Drake said. 

During one of three daytime news conferences on Monday, the police chief admitted that he was moved to tears watching the students run from the property and toward the trees near the property for protection from the shooter.

Police received calls about the shooter at 10:13 a.m., and by 10:27 a.m., Hale was killed by police on the school's second floor. 

On Twitter Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee released a video about the shooting, stating that all of Tennessee was "hurting" the day of the event. The Republican governor reminded people there is "hope in the midst of great tragedy," stressing that "God is a redeemer." 

"What is meant for evil can be turned for good," Lee said. "May we grieve in the days ahead, but not without hope. May we also act with wisdom, discernment, and grace. And may we love, especially those who have lost."

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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