(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden described a deadly school shooting at a Nashville private school Monday “a family’s worst nightmare.”
Biden continued to call the shooting “heartbreaking” during an appearance at a women’s business summit. He said he has been in touch with the Department of Justice about the shooting and echoed his own calls for lawmakers to tighten gun regulations.
“We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart. It’s ripping at the very soul of the nation. We have to do more to protect our schools, so they aren’t turned into prisons,” Biden said.
Three children and three adults were killed Monday morning after an active shooter unleashed a barrage of gunfire at Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. Metro Nashville Police officers “engaged” with the 28-year-old shooter, leaving the suspect dead and bringing the death toll from the tragedy to seven people.
While investigators continue their work, details of the shooting and a possible motive have been sparse. According to Metro Police, the suspect entered the school through a side entrance, armed with two “assault-type rifles” and a pistol. Metro Police Chief John Drake said initial information indicates the suspect was a Nashville resident who once attended the school.
The shooting has spurred reaction from numerous lawmakers, local leaders and groups, including Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee who insists he is keeping a close eye on the investigation.
“I am closely monitoring the tragic situation at Covenant, & the Tennessee Department of Safety and Tennessee Highway Patrol are assisting local law enforcement & first responders at the scene,” Lee tweeted. “As we continue to respond, please join us in praying for the school, congregation & Nashville community.”
U.S. Sens. Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said they are also closely monitoring the situation and staying in touch with federal, state and local officials. Blackburn adding that the senators “stand ready to assist.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, Nashville Mayor John Cooper noted that Music City is now joining a number of communities across the country impacted by school shootings.
“In a tragic morning, Nashville joined the dreaded, long list of communities to experience a school shooting,” Cooper tweeted. “My heart goes out to the families of the victims. Our entire city stands with you. As facts continue to emerge, I thank our first responders and medical professionals.”
Metro Police identified the victims of the school shooting as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all age 9, Cynthia Peak, age 61, Katherine Koonce, age 60, and Mike Hill, age 61. Many have called for prayers for their families and those involved.
“No harm should ever come to any child. At some point today, please take a moment to pray for the families impacted by this tragedy,” Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton said, in part.
“Absolutely devastating and heart wrenching. Every parent’s worst nightmare. Tennessee family, please lift these families up in your prayers,” Tennessee Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons said.
Meanwhile, the White House is reiterating their call for congressional action.
“How many more children have to be murdered before Republicans in Congress step up and act to pass the assault weapons ban, to close loopholes in our background checks, or to require the safe storage of guns?” Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
First lady Jill Biden said: “I am truly without words. Our children deserve better. We stand, all of us, we stand with Nashville in prayer.”
A representative with the Nashville Fire Department said at least 108 children and staff members of the school have been taken to a reunification point at Woodmont Baptist Church with a hotline being set up for parents to call.