(NewsNation) — Alex Apple’s mother has worked at The Covenant School for more than 20 years. She was returning from running an errand Monday when she heard the shots ring out.
The longtime employee immediately phoned her husband and son, Alex Apple said, after escaping the Nashville school shooting unharmed.
“Fortunately, I guess by the grace of God, my mom had gone on a quick errand, was coming back to the school, heard the gunshots, fled from there and was really quickly able to tell us that she was OK,” Apple said Monday on “Dan Abrams Live.” “I just can’t imagine what it’s like for the families that have a prolonged wait in these circumstances because when you’re a teacher, I mean your phone’s not always in your pocket … so in that scheme of things we were we were very lucky.”
The first reports of an active shooter at Covenant School in Nashville came in at 10:13 a.m. Monday, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said.
Nashville police identified the victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all ages 8 and 9; Cynthia Peak, age 61; Katherine Koonce, age 60; and Mike Hill, age 61.
Police identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a former student who they said gained access by shooting out the glass on the door of a side entrance.
Apple said part of his mother’s role is to let people into the school, which she did for Peak on Monday morning.
“Cynthia Peak was just a volunteer, there to sub … and an hour and a half later, look what’s happened,” Apple said. “I think in having watched my mom go through what she’s going through today, she’s probably just in shock. How do you process such a thing because it happened so quickly?”
The Covenant School is a private Christian school catering to students from pre-school through sixth grade. Apple described it as a small, tight-knit school in which most everyone knew everyone else.
Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Hale had maps of the school and that it was a targeted attack.
“We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident,” he said. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”
Apple said his mother knew Hale from the shooter’s time at the school.
“For this community to have been targeting just breaks my heart,” Apple said. “It’s a small loving kind, gentle community, but will it ever be the same? I’m certain it won’t, and I think that’s what hurts my heart the most.”
NewsNation writer Stephanie Whiteside contributed to this report.