Audrey Hale was left reeling by the recent death of a friend just months before the Nashville school shooter unleashed violence and bloodshed inside the private Christian school she once attended, according to a new report.
Hale struggled to cope with the loss of her friend, Sydney Sims, who died in a car crash back in August, NBC News reported. The pair previously attended Isaiah T. Creswell Middle School of the Arts and the Nashville School of the Arts together.
“Audrey definitely admired Sydney,” a former classmate, Samira Hardcastle, said.
Maria Colomy — one of Hale’s former teachers at another school, the Nossi College of Art & Design — echoed the sentiment. She said the loss seemed especially difficult for her former student.
“A lot of comments about ‘you were all that mattered’ (and) ‘I’ll miss you forever,’ etc.,” Colomy said, recalling some of the social media posts Hale shared after the tragedy.
Hardcastle, now a middle school teacher, told NBC News she most recently saw Hale briefly last month during a party hosted by a mutual friend. She said that while their interaction was brief, she didn’t notice anything especially off about her former friend.
“She seemed like she always did, just kind of quiet,” she said. “But I don’t know if I could go off that two-minute interaction and say how she was feeling.”
On Monday, Hale burst into The Covenant School around 10 a.m. and started shooting at both children and adults alike. She managed to kill three students and three staff members before she was fatally shot by responding police officers.
The student victims, all of them 9 years old, were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. The adults killed in the mass shooting include Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61.
Koonce was Covenant’s head of school while Koonce was a substitute teacher and Hill was a custodian.
Nashville Police Chief John Drake this week said Hale may have harbored “some resentment for having to go to that school,” adding that a motive for the shooting is still under investigation. It’s not clear if the impact of Sims’ death was also a contributing factor.