The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) has sent 10 crisis-trained chaplains to Nashville, Tennessee, in the aftermath of the Christian school shooting Monday that claimed the lives of three children and four adults, including the 28-year-old killer. A police officer was injured.
The attack occurred at The Covenant School, a private elementary school in the Green Hills neighborhood housed inside Covenant Presbyterian Church. The three students killed—all aged 9—included the daughter of the church’s pastor.
Authorities said the shooter, a trans-identifying biological female, once attended the school and laid out detailed plans for the attack, based on a manifesto and maps police say they have.
Franklin Graham posted on Facebook that the shooter’s actions should remind us that “We’re surrounded by evil in this world.”
“I want to praise the law enforcement officers and first responders who rushed to The Covenant School at 10:13 Monday morning, not knowing what they would encounter. They didn’t hesitate—they ran into the fire, risking their own lives to save lives. … We mourn along with those who have lost their loved ones in this horrible tragedy, but the Bible tells us that we do not grieve as those without hope—because our resurrected Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, has defeated death, sin, and Satan through the cross.”
The deceased students were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs. Three adult victims were substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61; custodian Mike Hill, 61; and Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school. Hallie Scruggs is the daughter of Pastor Chad Scruggs.
Covenant Presbyterian Church is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a theologically conservative denomination that split off from the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in the 1970s.
Kevin DeYoung, pastor of Christ Covenant Church, a PCA church in Matthews, North Carolina, told the New York Times that the Nashville church is “very well known” within the denomination, “and many people know Chad.”
“People will be praying for Covenant Presbyterian, for Chad and for that school,” DeYoung told the paper. “We pray it’s an opportunity to show how the Gospel gives us a hope the world can’t understand.”
BG-RRT chaplains began arriving in Nashville even as dozens of their colleagues were ministering to tornado victims in nearby Mississippi. Josh Holland, international director of the BG-RRT, said in a statement: “We are sending our crisis-trained chaplains to comfort people, listen and cry with them, pray with them, and share God’s love with those who have been impacted by this horrific tragedy.”
BG-RRT is also sending a Mobile Ministry Center that will provide a private place for anyone who needs to talk or pray with a chaplain.
Photo: Camden Hall / Alamy News Live