Former Columbine High School principal offers support to Nashville after school shooting

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, has found itself on a growing list that no school wants to be on. The school was the scene of a mass shooting Monday, in which three students and three staff members were killed.

School officials who’ve been in this situation have offered their support to the grieving community, including former Columbine School Principal Frank DeAngelis.

In 1999, two gunmen opened fire at Columbine High School, killing 30, and injuring many others. Since then, 175 people have died in 15 mass shooting events connected to U.S. schools and colleges, including Columbine. The analysis comes from a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University that tracks shootings involving at least four fatalities, not counting the shooter.

“One of the things that I learned pretty early on is an entire community can go through it, but how people deal with that, they deal with it differently,” DeAngelis said. “And you’re going to have some people that just feel they need to talk, you’re going to have others say, ‘I don’t want to talk about it, the sooner I get back to doing what I was doing prior is going to help me heal.’ And you’re going to have some people in between.”

DeAngelis added, “One of the things that’s so difficult is they don’t even know what they need at this point.”

Nearly 24 years after the Columbine High School shooting, DeAngelis continues to lead the Principal Recovery Network, a team of school leaders who have found themselves at the scene of gun violence.

DeAngelis hopes to offer resources to The Covenant School, including offering the “principal’s recovery guide.” The recovery guide covers topics like reentry to the school, working with the media, and ultimately offers tips from someone who’s been there before.

DeAngelis said he also recognizes the complexity of this school shooting.

“You know, one of the unfortunate things that happened at the school is they lost their leader [Dr. Katherine Koonce], and now someone coming in, but very similar to what happened at Sandy Hook,” DeAngelis said.

Moving forward, DeAngelis challenged everyone to not give up. “I refuse to be hopeless, and I refuse to give in.”

The victims in Monday’s shooting have been identified as Evelyn Diekhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, all age 9; Mike Hill, 61; Cynthia Peak, 61; and Dr. Katherine Koonce, 60.

The shooter was identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale. According to Metro police, Hale was a former student at the school and had no criminal history.

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