The Victims of The Covenant School Shooting: 'A Shining Light' Student and 'A Person of Grace' Director

Dieckhaus Family
Evelyn Dieckhaus.Dieckhaus Family

Three children and three staff members are remembered with praise as community reels from the Covenant School shooting in Nashville.

The grueling path of grief unfurled Tuesday for those who loved the six victims of a heavily armed shooter at a private, Christian elementary school in Nashville.

The dead are three children and three staff members at The Covenant School, where hell broke out Monday as a former student identified by police as 28-year-old Audrey Hale opened fire before being fatally shot by police.

These are the victims:

Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9

A third-grade student with a sweet face and big eyes, Evelyn was remembered by her family Tuesday in a statement asking for privacy.

"Our hearts are completely broken. We cannot believe this has happened. Evelyn was a shining light in this world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve," the statement said.

Her fifth-grade sister sobbed at a church vigil Monday night. “I don’t want to be an only child,” the girl said through tears.

Hallie Scruggs, 9

Hallie was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, who is the lead pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church, which is part of the school. 

“We love the Scruggs family and mourn with them over their precious daughter Hallie,” said The Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas. Pastor Mark Davis, in a statement, said, “Together, we trust in the power of Christ to draw near and give us the comfort and hope we desperately need.”

Hallie's father was formerly a pastor at the Texas church.

William Kinney, 9

A GoFundMe account established for the boy's family described the child as funny and kind.

"Will had an unflappable spirit. He was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others," wrote the site's founder. "He loved his sisters, adored his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and was always excited to host friends of every age. Sweet Will knew no strangers, and our hearts our broken for his family as they try to find their way forward."

Mike Hill, 61

Hill was the school's custodian, a man known for his love of children.

"Mike's sacrifice saved lives. I have nothing factual to base that upon. I just know what kind of guy he was," a former employer wrote on social media. "I know he's the kind of guy who would do that."

A woman who identified herself as Hill's niece wrote on Facebook: “I’m just in shock and disbelief. My heart is broken, I do not understand why someone would shoot up a school with precious babies inside.

“My uncle lost his life in this shooting today! My mom's brother Lord help me and my family please pray for all my cousins,” the post said., 

Hill was the father of eight children.

Katherine Koonce, 60

Koonce was Head of School at Covenant. She was remembered by a longtime friend as "A person of grace." She was a skilled educator and an a compassionate counselor, said those who knew her.

“We love her and appreciate her so much, we just wanted to be here. We can’t bring her back, obviously,” said Kim Lee, a friend who journeyed from Atlanta to Nashville to pay tribute to the administrator. 

“She had this amazing confidence but she was a person of grace,” he told CNN. “She was an educator, but she also had great pastoral and counseling and nurturing skills or she had those CEO skills that could tell you that you need to kind of get in your place,” he added, laughing.

Cynthia Peak, 61

Peak was a substitute teacher at the school. 

Chuck Owen, who said he was a lifelong friend, wrote a tribute to her on Facebook, saying he couldn't accept her death. "I grieve through tears as I write these words," he posted. 

Peak is survived by her husband, a daughter and two sons.

Also Tuesday, police released graphic bodycam footage of the officers who killed the shooter. The footage shows officers firing several rounds as they screamed for the suspect to get away from the weapon. Hale, who identified as transgender, crumpled to the ground, clad in combat fatigue pants, a white T-shirt and a red baseball hat.

For those wishing to help, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has established the Caring for Covenant Fund to manage donations to the school "because of the outpouring of love from our generous and thoughtful community," CEO Hal Cato said in a statement.

Related Stories