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Baton Rouge native hailed as a hero after Nashville school shooting: 'She protected her children'
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The headmaster of a school in Tennessee where six people were gunned down is being praised for her actions during the mass shooting, with reports saying she confronted the shooter in an effort to save her students.
Katherine Koonce, a Baton Rouge native, was among three adults who were killed in the Covenant School attack, which also left three 9-year-old children dead. Cynthia Peak — a substitute teacher from Leesville, Louisiana — was also among those killed.
Metro Nashville Councilman Russ Pulley told WZTV that he spoke with a witness who confirmed Koonce was on a Zoom call when the gunfire started. He said she abruptly ended her meeting and headed toward the gunfire.
Just got off the phone with Council Member Russ Pulley.— Amanda Chin (@amandachintv) March 29, 2023
He tells me one of the victims and the Head of Schools, Katherine Koonce, was on a Zoom call and when Koonce heard the shots, she abruptly ended the meeting and left the office, and headed toward the shooter. @FOXNashville
"She did what principals and headmasters do; she protected her children," Pulley told Fox News.
Koonce also reportedly went to great lengths to prepare her students and staff for an active shooter situation.
During a news conference Tuesday, police confirmed that Koonce was found in a hallway after what appeared to have been a "confrontation" with the shooter.
"She was in the hallway by herself. There was a confrontation I'm sure," Police Chief John Drake said. "You can tell the way she was laying in the hallway."
Police would ultimately rush into the school and shoot the attacker, identified as 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale. Police said Hale was a former student at the school and seemingly spent a significant amount of time plotting the attack.
Her heroic act comes as no surprise to one of her former High School classmates.
"She was doing her duty to protect her students, like any leader of a school would do. So it's not surprising at all, it's a very selfless act of courage," Dr. Jonathan Roberts told WBRZ.
Roberts graduated with Koonce from U High in 1981. Back then she went by Kathy. Roberts described her as a sweet woman and said everyone knew she was going to be successful.
While looking through a yearbook, Roberts showed pictures of Koonce in high school, as well as a handwritten note that reads "Hi Rod. Well, we are almost seniors. I can't wait, can you? Hope to see you lots next year. Have a fun summer, love Kathy."
"Even though she is no longer here, I will have photographs and this little note to remember her by," Roberts said.
Police still do not have a motive in the shooting.
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