A female shooter killed three children and three adults at a Christian grade school Monday in the southern U.S. state of Tennessee, according to authorities.
Police shot and killed the suspected shooter, who they initially said appeared to be a teenager. Authorities later determined the suspect was 28 years old and said she was a former student at the school.
Don Aaron, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, said the shooter was armed with at least two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun.
He said police began receiving calls at 10:13 a.m. about a shooter at The Covenant School, a private Presbyterian school in Nashville.
A child weeps while on the bus leaving The Covenant School, following a mass shooting at the school in Nashville, Tennessee, March 27, 2023. (Nicole Hester/USA Today Network via Reuters)
Officers who arrived at the scene could hear gunfire coming from the school's second floor, according to Aaron.
He said two officers who were part of a five-member team shot the shooter in a lobby area and that she was dead by 10:27 a.m.
Authorities have not identified the shooter and said they have yet to determine her motive.
Police described the victims as three students and three adult staff members. They said besides those six people, no one else was shot.
Police escorted the other students to a nearby church, where parents were told to gather.
Children from The Covenant School hold hands as they are taken to a reunification site at the Woodmont Baptist Church after a deadly shooting at their school, in Nashville, Tennessee, March 27, 2023.
The Covenant School has about 200 students from pre-school to sixth grade, according to its website.
'It's heartbreaking, a family's worst nightmare,' President Joe Biden told reporters in Washington.
He again urged Congress to pass more gun control legislation.
'We have to do more to protect our schools so they aren't turned into prisons ... I call on Congress again to pass my assault weapons ban,' he said.
First lady Jill Biden also spoke about the shooting Monday.
'I am truly without words. And our children deserve better,' she said during a National League of Cities conference in Washington.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper tweeted, 'In a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded, long list of communities to experience a school shooting. My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Our entire city stands with you.'
VOA SPECIAL REPORT: History of Mass Shooters
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While mass shootings are becoming more commonplace in the United States, female shooters are rare.
Of the 187 mass shootings since 1996, only four were carried out by women, according to The Violence Project, a nonprofit group that tracks mass shootings. Monday's suspected shooter would be the fifth.
Last year, a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 21 people dead.
Other deadly school massacres in the United States include a 2018 high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people died; a 2012 assault at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut in which 26 people were killed; and a 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 13 dead.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.