top of page

BEHAVIORAL THREAT ASSESSMENT OF AUDREY ELIZABETH HALE

Megan Khalife, Julia Tsarnas, Lydia Baccino Behavior/Leadership Team

Álvaro Picón, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor

April 11, 2023


Audrey Elizabeth Hale[1]


Name of Person/Terrorist/Person/Terrorist/Leader: Audrey (Aiden) Elizabeth Hale

Date of Death: March 27, 2023


Summary

On March 27, 2023, 28-year-old Audrey Hale shot and killed six individuals, including three nine-year-old children and three adults in Nashville, Tennessee at the Christian Covenant School.[2] CTG classifies this attack as terrorism based on an assessment of POI’s warning behaviors and distal characteristics. POI’s attack was almost certainly premeditated, as POI drafted a detailed map of entry points, conducted surveillance of the school, and attended several handgun training sessions in April and May 2022.[3] It is almost certain POI’s motivation for the attack was a sense of resentment for attending this school.[4] POI likely had grievances towards the Christian institution, its teachings, and the perceived religious narrative opposing freedom of gender identity. POI almost certainly planned to die during the attack through suicide-by-cop, as POI carried a significant amount of ammunition in anticipation of a violent confrontation with the police. POI communicated suicidal thoughts and hopelessness to a former classmate before the attack, almost certainly prompting investigations into POI’s mental state at the time of the crime.[5] This attack highlights the importance of monitoring individuals with grievances over their religious school experience, especially those of LGBTQA+ individuals.


Event Overview

On Monday, March 27, Hale conducted a mass shooting at the Christian Covenant School, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. Equipped with significant ammunition and armed with assault-style weapons, including a rifle, a pistol, and a handgun, POI killed three students and three adults. POI shot through a side door to enter the school.[6] The shooting lasted 14 minutes, with police finding the suspect on the second floor. Law enforcement engaged the POI who was shot and killed.[7] Metropolitan Nashville Police identified the shooter from a nearby car.[8]


POI Overview - Items of Interest

POI was assigned female at birth but identified as part of the transgender community, adopting he/him pronouns.[9] POI graduated from Nashville's Nossi College of Art & Design in 2022 and later became a graphic designer working for several companies to create “whimsical” logos.[10] Listed on the POI’s LinkedIn page is POI’s employment as a part-time grocery shopper with the food delivery service Shipt. Metro Nashville Police Department stated that the POI had a mental health disorder and was receiving medical care.[11] The POI’s parents believed that POI should not have been able to purchase weapons, and voiced concerns over the legal ownership.[12] Friends of the POI also expressed concern over POI’s mental state.


Below are some items of interest that will identify observable indicators and characteristics to determine if there was a chance to prevent this attack.


  1. POI is a former student of the Christian Covenant School. No details have been released stating which year POI attended the school.

  2. POI identifies as a transgender woman, according to the Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief.[13]

  3. POI lived with his parents Ron, who is self-employed, and Norma, who works as a coordinator at a nearby church. Norma posted about gun control and school shootings on her Facebook in 2018. Her account is now deleted.

  4. POI works as a part-time grocery shopper.

  5. There is no evidence showing that POI was working with someone else. POI was operating alone.[14]

  6. Neighbors described POI as quiet and reserved.

  7. POI has a brother-in-law school in Brooklyn, New York.

  8. POI has no previous criminal record.[15]

  9. POI went to the Nossi College of Art in Nashville, Tennessee.

  10. POI has an online art portfolio of illustrated art, including her children’s book.[16]

  11. POI has a LinkedIn that identifies pronouns as he/him, but the art portfolio uses the name Audrey and does not refer to pronouns.[17]

  12. POI described themself as “child-like” and someone who “loves to go run to the playground.”[18]

  13. POI enjoyed working with clients who wanted a “whimsical and light-hearted feel” to their art/designs/logos.[19]

  14. POI’s hobbies included art, video games, watching movies, playing sports, and spending time with two cats. POI describes animals as a “second passion.”[20]

  15. POI was under doctor’s care for an emotional disorder.[21]

  16. POI possessed seven firearms, all legally purchased. POI used three of them in the attack.[22]

  17. POI attended three handgun training classes at the Royal Range USA in April and May 2022.[23]

  18. POI was described as borderline obsessed with the former middle school basketball team, including some teammates.[24]

  19. A suicide note was found at POI’s home.[25]


Observable Indicators and Characteristics

Below are some items of interest that will identify observable indicators and characteristics to determine if there was a chance to prevent this attack.


To indicate whether POI posed a threat, CTG has assessed POI using the Terrorist Radicalization Assessment Protocol (TRAP-18), a structured professional judgment instrument for those engaged in risk assessment of persons of concern for terrorism acts. The TRAP-18 consists of eight proximal warning behaviors and 10 distal characteristics displayed throughout past terrorist attacks (for more information about the scientific method, validity, current usage of the TRAP-18, and definitions of behaviors and characteristics, see the provided source).[26]


Note: View Observable Indicators and Characteristics by downloading the full report located at the bottom of this report.


Classification as Terrorism

According to TRAP-18 creators, most lone actors displayed 13 of 18 TRAP-18 variables (72%). These individuals showed a frequency of >70% on five distal factors: personal grievance and moral outrage, framed by an ideology, dependence on the virtual community, thwarting of occupational goals, and changes in thinking and emotion. They also displayed >77% on the following proximal warning behaviors: pathway, fixation, identification, and leakage.[40] Lone-actor terrorists have shown a pattern of common pre-attack behaviors, discerning them from general criminals


Based on a CTG investigation, POI displayed 12 of the total indicators aligning with other lone-actor terrorists. POI displayed five out of 10 distal factors, coinciding with those that terrorist lone actors show a frequency of >70% on: personal grievance and moral outrage, changes in thinking and emotions, failure of sexual-intimate pair bonding, mental disorder, and greater creativity and innovation. POI also displayed seven out of eight warning behaviors: pathway, fixation, identification, novel aggression, energy burst, leakage, and last resort. At the time of this report, there is no information to suggest POI’s attack was ideologically or politically motivated. However, due to the prevalence of proximal warning behaviors, distal characteristics, and the communal and national impact, CTG considers it appropriate to classify this attack as lone-actor terrorism.


Target and Goal

POI received handgun training in April and May 2022, very likely suggesting that POI started planning a year ago. POI demonstrated capabilities to act on intent, seeing that POI conducted surveillance of the school before the attack and assessed potential entry points. According to the evidence, POI almost certainly targeted the Christian Covenant School but did not list specific individuals to be targeted, as shots were fired indiscriminately. POI’s manifesto details other targets, including a nearby mall and certain family members. These targets were ultimately dismissed due to the high-security level. It is almost certain that POI planned on dying, as POI left a suicide note and expressed suicidal thoughts to a former classmate before the attack.


Motive

POI was almost certainly motivated to commit a mass shooting, fueled by a sense of resentment for attending this school.[41] It is likely POI had grievances towards the Christian institution and its teachings, considering POI was assigned as female at birth but identified as part of the transgender community, adopting he/him pronouns. POI likely felt ostracized, considering that this religious narrative did not support POI’s gender identity. POI’s parents are allegedly religious, which likely aggravated POI’s perceived grievances. POI wanted and planned to die on the day of the attack, almost certainly suggesting POI committed the shooting with the intent to enforce POI’s own suicide by planning to provoke police to shoot, also known as suicide-by-cop. Investigations into POI’s mental health at the time of the shooting will almost certainly happen, POI was under a doctor’s care for an emotional disorder.


On March 2, 2023, the Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, approved a new law that prohibits gender-affirming healthcare for children who identify as transgender or nonbinary. The law prohibits the use of medications, such as hormone treatments and puberty blockers, which are commonly used to treat gender dysphoria in young people. Additionally, surgeries that were previously infrequent in Tennessee are now also prohibited under this new health law.[42] This new bill very likely frustrated POI who identified as part of the transgender community and adopted he/him pronouns. Based on the evidence from POI’s portfolio, POI was likely stuck in childhood as emphasized through POI’s boyish attire and designs from the portfolio. There is a roughly even chance POI believes this bill will affect the children who experience gender and identity dysphoria, similar to POI’s childhood experience. POI likely sought revenge and POI likely held Christianity responsible for transphobic views and resorted to this attack as revenge against a Christian symbol.


Conspiracy Theories and Copycats

There is no information on POI’s beliefs or involvement in conspiracy theories at the time of this report. No documented evidence the POI is copying anyone, as the manifesto has not been released to the public. POI’s manifesto contained writings idolizing previous school shooters and added stickers of certain symbols on the owned weapons as did previous school shooters, almost certainly indicating POI was inspired by them. The amount of ammunition, detailed planning, and information provided from a compilation of POI’s writings suggest the attack was almost certainly premeditated. There have been no copycats since POI’s attack.


Future Implications

The incident underscores the importance of monitoring individuals with grievances over their religious school experience, especially those of LGBTQA+ individuals. Considering that POI was under a doctor’s care for a mental disorder, there will very likely be investigations on whether POI shared any information with the doctor. The possibility that POI communicated intent to self-harm or harm others may have aided in the prevention of this attack, very likely putting the doctor under scrutiny for not committing to their duty to warn. POI’s parents were aware that Hale owned a gun, which will almost certainly prompt a debate in the community over their parenting. Seizing guns from individuals with mental disorders will almost certainly limit the risk of harm they pose to themselves or others, reducing the threat of targeted shootings. Parents of children attending the Christian Covenant School will very likely denounce the lack of security personnel, very likely leading to an increase in on-campus security measures in religious schools. Although law enforcement’s response to the shooting was quick and effective, the community will likely denounce the suicide prevention hotline and law enforcement authorities’ response to POI’s communicated threat. It is unlikely action could have been taken despite the warning due to the short timeframe between the reporting and the attack.


There is a roughly even chance the Metropolitan Nashville Police will share POI’s manifesto with the public. It is almost certain that there will be a rise in transphobia, very likely increasing hate crime incidents against trans persons. Far-right groups and conservative political parties will almost certainly use this shooting to spread misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms about trans individuals, very likely comparing previous shooters’ gender identities like Colorado Springs to POI. This will very likely perpetuate the faulty narrative that LGBTQA+ persons are violent, have mental disorders, and are dangerous. Increased awareness and education campaigns on the demographics of mass shooters and their victims will likely decrease such rhetoric.


The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) has become the global leader in proactively fighting terrorist organizations around the world. CTG specializes in intelligence collection, and analysis, as well as investigative work to counterterrorism. CTG resources are delivered to advise clients on a business resilience process using current threat intelligence data. We scan for threats across the following regions; Africa, Central Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Asia-Pacific. Our organization assesses evolving threats through, Worldwide Analysis of Threats, Crime, and Hazards (W.A.T.C.H.) services. Our W.A.T.C.H Officers and Digital Targeters monitor the threat posed by cyber threats, insider threats, fraud, espionage, hazards, reputational damages, violent crime, kidnappings, and bombing threats. To find out more about our products and W.A.T.C.H. services visit us at counterterrorismgroup.com.



Nashville BTA
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.28MB

 

[1] Audrey Elizabeth Hale, from LinkedIn, via CyberHUMINT (the account has since been taken down)

[2] What we know about The Covenant School shooter, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, News Channel 5 Nashville, March 2023, https://www.newschannel5.com/news/what-we-know-about-the-covenant-school-shooter-in-nashville

[3] Before shooting, Audrey Hale repeatedly trained at local gun ranges, WSMV4, March 2023, https://www.wsmv.com/2023/03/30/before-shooting-audrey-hale-repeatedly-trained-local-gun-ranges/?outputType=amp

[4] Who was Nashville shooter Audrey Hale?, ABC News, March 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/US/nashville-shooter-audrey-hale/story?id=98166039

[5] She checked her Instagram. She didn't expect a message from The Covenant School shooter, News Channel 5 Nashville, March 2023, https://www.newschannel5.com/news/she-checked-her-instagram-she-didnt-expect-a-message-from-the-covenant-school-shooter?fbclid=IwAR1gDZ8yVUWYBcsYAN--0L7DsyejeRyBaeOl6GcFqkP4BK4o1c2L8aYpP50

[6] Nashville school shooter had drawn maps, done surveillance, AP News, March 2023, https://apnews.com/article/nashville-school-shooting-covenant-school-5da45b469ccb6c9533bbddf20c1bfe16

[7] What we know about The Covenant School shooter, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, News Channel 5 Nashville, March 2023, https://www.newschannel5.com/news/what-we-know-about-the-covenant-school-shooter-in-nashville

[8] Nashville Christian school shooter appears to be a former student, police chief says, NBC News, March 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nashville-christian-school-shooter-appears-former-student-police-chief-rcna76876

[9] Who was Nashville shooter Audrey Hale?, ABC News, March 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/US/nashville-shooter-audrey-hale/story?id=98166039

[10] Ibid

[11] Nashville school shooter had mental health disorder, police say, WSMV4, March 2023, https://www.wsmv.com/2023/03/28/nashville-school-shooter-had-mental-disorder-police-say/

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] Nashville police: Covenant shooter planned attack over months, studied other mass shootings, The Tennessean, April 2023, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2023/04/03/nashville-police-covenant-shooter-acted-alone-fired-152-rounds/70076706007/

[15] Nashville school shooter had mental health disorder, police say, WSMV4, March 2023, https://www.wsmv.com/2023/03/28/nashville-school-shooter-had-mental-disorder-police-say/

[16] AH Illustrations, from Adobe Portfolio, via CyberHUMINT (the account has since been taken down)

[17] AudreyHale10, Linkedin, via CyberHUMINT (the account has since been taken down)

[18] AH Illustrations, from Adobe Portfolio, via CyberHUMINT (the account has since been taken down)

[19] Ibid

[20] Ibid

[21] Nashville school shooter had mental disorder, police say, WSMV4, March 2023, https://www.wsmv.com/2023/03/28/nashville-school-shooter-had-mental-disorder-police-say/

[22] Nashville shooter fired indiscriminately at victims, AP News, March 2023, https://apnews.com/article/nashville-school-shooting-covenant-school-03aa394109a5e682877403c0c3e52aa7

[23] Before shooting, Audrey Hale repeatedly trained at local gun ranges, WSMV4, March 2023, https://www.wsmv.com/2023/03/30/before-shooting-audrey-hale-repeatedly-trained-local-gun-ranges/?outputType=amp

[24] Nashville school shooting updates: School employee says staff members carried guns, The Tennessean, March 2023, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2023/03/30/nashville-shooting-latest-news-audrey-hale-covenant-school-updates/70053945007/

[25] Suicide note, weapons and ammunition found in Nashville shooter's home, officials say, NBC News, April 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/suicide-note-weapons-ammunition-found-nashville-shooters-home-official-rcna78128

[26] “Assessing the threat of lone-actor terrorism: the reliability and validity of the TRAP-18”, NCBI, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7149273/

[27] Nashville school shooter had drawn maps, done surveillance, AP News, March 2023, https://apnews.com/article/nashville-school-shooting-covenant-school-5da45b469ccb6c9533bbddf20c1bfe16

[28] She checked her Instagram. She didn't expect a message from The Covenant School shooter, News Channel 5 Nashville, March 2023, https://www.newschannel5.com/news/she-checked-her-instagram-she-didnt-expect-a-message-from-the-covenant-school-shooter?fbclid=IwAR1gDZ8yVUWYBcsYAN--0L7DsyejeRyBaeOl6GcFqkP4BK4o1c2L8aYpP50

[29] Suicide note, weapons and ammunition found in Nashville shooter's home, officials say, NBC News, April 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/suicide-note-weapons-ammunition-found-nashville-shooters-home-official-rcna78128

[30] Nashville school shooter had drawn maps, done surveillance, AP News, March 2023, https://apnews.com/article/nashville-school-shooting-covenant-school-5da45b469ccb6c9533bbddf20c1bfe16

[31] Suicide note, weapons and ammunition found in Nashville shooter's home, officials say, NBC News, April 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/suicide-note-weapons-ammunition-found-nashville-shooters-home-official-rcna7812

[32] TBI director shares new details on The Covenant School shooter's manifesto, News Channel 5 Nashville, April 2023, https://www.newschannel5.com/news/tbi-director-shares-new-details-on-the-covenant-school-shooters-manifesto

[33] Before shooting, Audrey Hale repeatedly trained at local gun ranges, WSMV4, March 2023, https://www.wsmv.com/2023/03/30/before-shooting-audrey-hale-repeatedly-trained-local-gun-ranges/?outputType=amp

[34] She checked her Instagram. She didn't expect a message from The Covenant School shooter, News Channel 5 Nashville, March 2023, https://www.newschannel5.com/news/she-checked-her-instagram-she-didnt-expect-a-message-from-the-covenant-school-shooter?fbclid=IwAR1gDZ8yVUWYBcsYAN--0L7DsyejeRyBaeOl6GcFqkP4BK4o1c2L8aYpP50

[35] Nashville school shooting live updates: Six killed, including three children, NBC News, March 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/live-blog/rcna76861

[36] She checked her Instagram. She didn't expect a message from The Covenant School shooter, News Channel 5 Nashville, March 2023, https://www.newschannel5.com/news/she-checked-her-instagram-she-didnt-expect-a-message-from-the-covenant-school-shooter?fbclid=IwAR1gDZ8yVUWYBcsYAN--0L7DsyejeRyBaeOl6GcFqkP4BK4o1c2L8aYpP50

[37] The Nashville school shooter fell into an emotional spiral after the recent death of a close friend, ex-classmate says, NBC News, March 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nashville-school-shooter-spiral-recent-death-close-frie-rcna77336

[38] Nashville school shooting updates: School employee says staff members carried guns, The Tennessean, March 2023, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2023/03/30/nashville-shooting-latest-news-audrey-hale-covenant-school-updates/70053945007/

[39] What we know about the deadly shooting at a Nashville elementary school, NPR, March 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/03/28/1166482479/nashville-school-shooting-covenant-what-we-know

[40] Assessing the threat of lone-actor terrorism: the reliability and validity of the TRAP-18, Forensische Psychiatrie, Psychologie, Kriminologie, 2020 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7149273/

[41] Nashville Christian school shooter appears to be a former student, police chief says, NBC News, March 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/nashville-christian-school-shooter-appears-former-student-police-chief-rcna76876

[42] Gov. Bill Lee signs ban on gender-affirming care for minors, drag restrictions into law, The Tennessean, March 2023, https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2023/03/02/tennessee-governor-bill-lee-signs-anti-trans-bill-drag-restrictions-into-law/69937336007/

26,533 views

Коментарі


bottom of page