Nashville Officers Give Firsthand Account Christian School Mass Shooting

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The Nashville Police officers who responded to last week’s mass shooting at a Christian private school gave their firsthand accounts of how the incident unfolded.

Detective Sgt. Jeff Mathes, Detective Michael Collazo, and Officer Rex Engelbert described that it was luck that they were in the area last week when an active shooter was reported at the school. Rex Engelbert, a four-year veteran, and Michael Collazo, a nine-year veteran, shot and killed Audrey Hale at the Covenant School last week, officials confirmed. Hale shot and killed three 9-year-old children and three adults.

“I really had no business being where I was. I think you can call it fate or God or whatever you want, but I can’t count on both my hands the irregularities that put me in that position when a call for service came out for a deadly aggression at a school,” Engelbert said in a news conference. “I’ve been to I don’t know how many false active deadly aggression calls. Something told me it was time to really get to this one. I treat them all the same, but I was driving as safely I could get my body there.”

When he was responding, Engelbert noted that “due to the bravery of two staff members, they stayed on scene, they didn’t run, and they gave me concise, clear information for me to use to help anyone in danger.”

“A gentleman gave me the exact key I needed to enter the building. It was readily apparent I was going to be the one to make entry. I’d been given my training. I know my role, and I made entry with the personnel I had. And luckily, I had some,” he added.

“We cleared the hallway we had, room by room, until we made it into the lobby,” the officer said of when he made entry into the school. “When I did hear stimulus, I couldn’t get to it fast enough. I just looked for the nearest staircase I could find because I could tell it was above my head. Eventually, following the guidance of other officers, I luckily deployed my rifle, kept walking toward the sound of gunfire. There was, like sergeant said, some smoke in the air. It was very similar to the training we had received.”

Collazo said that during the response, “once we started hearing the first shots that’s when everything kind of kicked into overdrive for us.” He added that “we had gone up the stairwell, made our way down the hallway, that’s when I ran into that second victim laid on the ground. We had to push past the victim because we continued to hear more shots being fired.”

“It was very distinctive. You could clear as day tell that rifle rounds were being fired. We came upon a T intersection,” he said. “Sgt. Mathes was on one side, and I was on the other side. We didn’t know if the shooter was to the left or the right. Smoke was everywhere. The fire alarm was going off. Somewhere right around that point we heard another shot.”

By Jack Phillips

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