Nashville, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Hill, a 61-year-old officer who was among six people killed in last week’s attack at a Nashville elementary school, Tuesday was remembered for his loving nature, culinary skills and faith.
Hundreds of friends and family turned out for Hill’s funeral at Stephens Valley Church, where Pastor Jim Bachmann said the congregation’s hearts ached for the man known as “Big Mike.”
“He was big, and he was strong, and he was tough,” Bachmann said. “But it was also soft and tender.”
“He embraced my kids and he embraced your kids, and he recognized them by name,” Bachmann said. children through the pearly gates.
The hill was on three adults and three 9-year-old students who were killed in the March 27 mass shooting at the Union School. The police responded and killed the 28-year-old former student who carried out the attack. At a news conference Tuesday, several officers recounted how the victims had to go around and run toward gunfire to find the attacker, amid smoke and the smell of gunpowder.
Hill was one of the few African American members of Stephens Valley, a predominantly white suburban church that he attended because of his friendship with Bachmann. The pastor had previously founded the Alliance Presbyterian Church, where the Alliance School was located, and the two met and became friends while working there together, Bachmann said.
The pastor, who is fair-skinned, said that Hill and “there is a similarity between two people”, but shared faith in Jesus, through which “we will be in heaven forever.”
The funeral mixed worship traditions, alternating powerful hymns from a black gospel choir with instrumentals such as violin and piano. It concluded with a rendition of “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes and drums.
Hill had seven children and 14 grandchildren and loved spending time with family and cooking.
Bachmann recalled that Hill would often bring out freshly baked cookies. For special occasions, offer pecan or chess pie.
“He led me into temptation.” He didn’t free me from that,” Bachmann joked.
Addressing the protesters, Bachmann said tragedies like this one evoke many emotions besides pain, including anger and confusion.
“People want change. They want action. They want to lead. They want something decisive to happen so that this doesn’t happen again,” he said. “Of course we all want to.”
Bachmann said that he did not have the answers, but he was called to follow Jesus’ command “to love one another as I have loved you.”
“Love one another, and the kind of world we want to have,” he said. And we shall have peace like a river, and justice like the waves of the sea.
Captain John Drake told reporters in a press conference after the news that he had attended five funerals held so far.
Metro Nashville Police brought in several officers to tell how they followed the shooter into the school.
Drake said the school’s active shooter training likely prevented more deaths, pointing out how school staff knew to have kids hide by standing against walls, from windows and from windows.
The department said that during the shooting attack, 152 rounds were fired before the police were killed. The two officers fired four rounds each, police said. Police declined to provide other details Tuesday about the arson attack that ended in a fatal shooting.
King Engelbert, one of the first officers who were to enter the school, denied that he had been appointed to the fence. He was heading to the police academy when he heard the shooting call and was quickly redirected.
“I don’t really care where I am,” Engelbert said, “I think I can say fate, or God, or whatever you want.” But I cannot count those who place themselves in either position of my irregularities.
Engelbert’s response is shown in body camera footage released by the department. The school administrator gave him a key to get into the building and yelled “I need 3!”
Det. Jeff Mathes, who said he had never seen Engelbert before the day, entered the same way, with three detections. When they cleared the rooms on the first floor, Engelbert and Mathes said they heard a gunshot upstairs. Mathes said the teachers had to enter the victim while he was moving toward the gunfire.
“Doing what our training teaches us to do in those situations and following the impulses, we all became victims,” Mathes said. “I, to this day, do not know how I did morally, but the training kicked in.”
In another part of the school, Det. Michael Collazo said a school employee directed him through the glass door that the shooter punched through to enter the building. Clips of Collazo’s body camera footage were also released.
Collazo said that when he entered the school, he saw a man lying on the ground, not moving. He slammed the door to the second floor, then checked the rooms on the first floor until he heard a knock from above and moved there. Eventually, his group and Engelbert’s got caught up in each other, aiming for the shooter’s gun.
“Once we started hearing the first shots, it kind of kicked us out,” Collazo said.
Police said Engelbert and Collazo were the officers who fired their weapons in the shooting.
Meanwhile, outside, Officer Dayton Wheeler was helping set up an ambulance when gunfire began to erupt from a second floor window. Police released a photo of the bullet holes in the cruiser.
The police chief observed that some officers would not hesitate to put on ballistic helmets before heading into the building. Engelbert said he didn’t wear a heavy gun belt.
“They prepared and went right in, knowing that every second, every moment could cost a ruined life,” Drake said.
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