Nashville police talk about response to mass shooting: ‘It’s a real thing that kicked in’ – ABC News?

Metro Nashville Police officers who ended a mass shooting at a private Christian school in Tennessee that left six people dead cited their police training in how they responded to the scene.

Detective Sergeant Jeff Mathes, Detective Michael Collazo and Officer Rex Engelbert began Tuesday’s press conference by offering condolences to the family. They all said how lucky it was that everyone in the country responded to the active shooter call last week.

Officials thanked the community for the outpouring of support following the March 27 shooting at Union High School, which left three children and three adults dead.

Children from Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., hold hands at a reunification site at Woodmont Baptist Church, following the deadly shooting at their school on Monday, March 27, 2013.

Jonathan Mattis/AP

According to Nashville police, after the shooter, identified by police as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, opened fire at the school, responding officers shot and arrested the suspect about 14 minutes after the first 911 call.

Officer Dayton Wheeler, who also responded to the shooting, described the day as something he’ll never forget, saying his “stomach dropped” when he received 911 calls about the transmission at the school.

Detective Sergeant Mathes and three detectives from his unit were among the first to enter the school that morning.

Mathes was in his office when he received a call about an active shooter. He and his team broke down the door, surrounded the security guard, grabbed the shotgun and entered the building.

He describes how his training kicks in, telling how to stop the depression from stepping on the victim to corrupt the threat.

“We all entered the victim. I don’t know how I did morally today, but the training kicked in,” Mathes said.

According to Mathes, he entered the school “with a goal” because he knew how serious the situation was based on the number of calls about crossing.

“We just heard the sounds and from my experience, I knew they were gunshots,” Mathes said.

PHOTO: A police officer walks through the entrance of Union High School after a shooting, March 27, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.

A police officer walks through the entrance to Union School after a shooting on March 27, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.

John Amis/AP

Officer Engelbert said he was going to the Metro Police Academy for work, which would send him to the Midtown section of the city at the time.

“I don’t really care where I was. I guess you can call it fate or God or whatever you want, but I can’t count on either side of my irregularities that got me out of that place when I was called to use it for a deadly attack at school” Engelbert he said.

Detective Collazo, who works for Mathes, said he was completing administrative duties when the active shooter call came in.

When he arrived, Collazo found two school officials who led him toward where the shooter entered the building. Mike found 62-year-old Hill, one of the shooting victims, motionless on the ground.

Police released a body image of Collazo, a 16-year veteran, and Engelbert, a four-year veteran, on March 28, which showed them shooting the suspect.

Police have identified the slain children as 9-year-old students Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs. In addition to Hill, the two other adult victims were 60-year-old school principal Katherine Koonce and 61-year-old substitute teacher Cynthia Peak.

ABC News’ Morgan Winsor and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.

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Ava Grey

Hi there! I'm Ava Grey, an enthusiastic article writer with a passion for the arts, fashion, and staying informed about current events. As a journalism student at the New York Academy of Art, I'm driven to use my writing to create positive change and spark meaningful conversations. I'm particularly interested in contemporary art and sustainable fashion, and I love exploring how people use these mediums to express themselves and communicate their values. I believe that staying informed and hearing different perspectives is essential for personal growth and learning, and I'm always eager to engage in lively debates and discussions.

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