Grief and ‘the Surprise Game’ Follow Nashville School

Advocates, elected officials, and witnesses expressed outrage and grief Monday after three children and three adults were shot to death at a school in Nashville. The aftermath included:

  • A rush to the school: “It was one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve ever experienced in person,” said Kelly Stooksberry. She works nearby and filmed people running toward the Covenant School shortly after the shooting. Some of them ran through police barricades toward the building, per the Washington Post. “I saw a woman on her knees clutching her chest having what looked like a panic attack,” Stooksberry said.
  • Agony at the hospital: Families speeded to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, directed by police, then ran into the building. “The wails of family members could be heard echoing through the parking lot,” per the Tennessean.
  • Call for change: “We do not have to live like this, nor should we ever accept this as our reality,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady: United Against Gun Violence. “Our children deserve a life free from worry of being gunned down while learning their ABC’s.”
  • Vigils: More than a half-dozen events were scheduled for Monday evening and Tuesday in Nashville, per the Tennessean. At Woodmont Christ Church, groups of mourners stood at the entrance, greeting arrivals with tears streaming down their faces. A box of tissues was placed in each pew.
  • A mass shooting survivor: Ashbey Beasley stepped to the microphones, uninvited, when a Nashville police spokesman finished addressing reporters. She told them she was at the July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois, last summer when the shooting started; she picked up her 6-year-old son and ran. She was in Nashville visiting family, per the Post, and a friend whose son was killed in a mass shooting at a Waffle House in 2018. “Aren’t you guys tired of covering this?” Beasley asked reporters. She later talked to the Post about why she took over the microphones. “I just was like, ‘I have to say something,'” she said. “Because I just feel like, how many more?”
  • Mayors’ stance: “Our schools should be places of comfort and safety where children come to learn, not worry about getting shot,” said Tom Cochran of the US Conference of Mayors. He called on Congress to approve gun safety laws, pointing out that local efforts often are “preempted by state legislatures.”
  • Down the road: “She has no idea what happened,” said a teary woman picking up her 4-year-old daughter at nearby Woodmont Baptist Church. The church’s preschool was named the reunification center for Covenant parents and students after the shooting. The girl’s class “played the Surprise Game, which is what they call it when they have a lockdown,” the woman said. “And she did a really good job. She earned two stickers!”

(Read more Nashville school shooting stories.)