Nashville shooter’s friend was on hold with city, trying to raise alarm as attack was under way

On 27 March, at 10.13am, Nashville police got a call that an individual, later revealed to be 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was roaming the halls of The Covenant School, a private Christian elementary school.

At the very same time, Averianna Patton, an old friend of Hale’s, was on hold waiting for a response from a non-emergency city phone line.

Hale, The Tennessean reports, had just sent a former middle school basketball teammate a set of worrying messages claiming something bad was about to happen and referencing suicidal thoughts.

Ms Patton told her father about the messages, and he told her to get in touch with the Suicide Prevention Helpline, which directed the woman to get in touch with the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office then directed Ms Patton to Nashville’s non-emergency phone number.

After spending about seven minutes on hold, Ms Patton was connected with a dispatcher, who took her information and said they would send someone to follow up on her report.

That staff member didn’t arrive to see Ms Patton until around 3.29pm that afternoon, according to the Tennessean, hours after the shooting at the school – which claimed the lives of three children, three adults, and the gunman – was over.

"Something in me was like, ‘No, you need to help. Do something,’” Ms Patton told the paper.

She called for a clearer process of reporting mental health concerns to police.

Nashville police have said they didn’t have any prior warning signs that Hale was dangerous.

On Tuesday, Nashville police John Drake said later interviews with Hale’s parents revealed the 28-year-old had been receiving treatment for an “emotional disorder,” leaving his parents concerned that “should not own weapons.”

The chief added that while there isn’t a Tennessee law that would allow them to have seized Hale’s guns, police would’ve tried to prevent the shooting had they been given warning.

“If it had been reported she was suicidal or was going to kill someone and had been reported to us, we would’ve tried to get those weapons,” he said, adding, “As it stands, we had absolutely no idea who this person was.”

(Hale reportedly identified as transgender and used he/him pronouns. Law enforcement officials initially described the suspect as a woman in the aftermath of the shooting.)

Police have not confirmed a motive for the massacre, though they have discovered maps, drawings, and research that apparently went into Hale’s plan for the shooting.

Officials have said none of the six individuals killed in the shooting were specifically targeted, though it appears the 28-year-old deliberately planned to attack The Covenant School, of which he was a graduate.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, the Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to to find a helpline near you.