Nashville shooting victims: Head of school, 9-year-old students, custodian among those killed

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said his wife, Maria, was 'best friends' with Cynthia Peak.

ByTeddy Grant and Morgan Winsor ABCNews logo
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Nashville school shooting: What to know about the 6 victims
Here's what we know about the three students and three staff members who were shot and killed at the Covenant School in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The six victims of a fatal shooting at a private Christian elementary school in Tennessee's capital city have been identified by police.

Three students and three staff members were shot and killed at the Covenant School in Nashville on Monday morning. The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department identified the victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9; Mike Hill, 61; William Kinney, 9; Katherine Koonce, 60; Cynthia Peak, 61; and Hallie Scruggs, 9.

MORE: Nashville school shooting latest

Here's what we know about the slain so far:

Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9

Evelyn Dieckhaus is seen in this undated photo.
Courtesy The Dieckhaus Family

Evelyn Dieckhaus was a third-grader at the Covenant School.

"Our hearts are completely broken," the Dieckaus family said in a statement. "We cannot believe this has happened. Evelyn was a shining light in this world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve."

Mike Hill, 61

Mike Hill is seen here in an undated file photo.
Mike Hill/Facebook

Mike Hill was a custodian at the Covenant School, according to police.

Hill was said to have "loved his job" and saw workers and school kids "as his family," ABC News reported.

Pastor Tim Dunavant, of the Hartsville First United Methodist Church, said that he hired Hill to work at Covenant more than a decade ago.

"I don't know the details yet. But I have a feeling, when it all comes out, Mike's sacrifice saved lives," Dunavant wrote. "I have nothing factual to base that upon. I just know what kind of guy he was. And I know he's the kind of guy that would do that."

Hill's family issued a statement saying, "We pray for the Covenant School and are so grateful that Michael was beloved by the faculty and students who filled him with joy for 14 years. He was a father of seven children ... and 14 grandchildren. He liked to cook and spend time with family."

Another pastor, Jim Bachmann, said Hill was "one of those people you cannot not like" and that he made a point of learning the names of all the students and talking to them.

William Kinney, 9

William Kinney, 9, was identified by police as one of the children killed in the Nashville school shooting.

Katherine Koonce, 60

Katherine Koonce, a victim in The Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tenn., March 27, 2023.
The Covenant School

Katherine Koonce was the head of the Covenant School, according to police. Her LinkedIn profile says she has led the school since July 2016.

Koonce was described by loved ones as a "remarkable woman" with a "bright spirit," ABC News reported.

"If there was any trouble in that school, she would run to it, not from it," Jackie Bailey said of her friend Katherine Koonce, head of The Covenant School. "She was trying to protect those kids ... That's just what I believe."

Before Koonce took the top role with Covenant, Anna Caudill, a former art teacher, worked with her for almost a decade at Christ Presbyterian Academy, another Christian school in the area connected to a Presbyterian Church in America congregation.

"She was an absolute dynamo and one of the smartest women I'll ever know," said Caudill, recalling how Koonce excelled at her day job while parenting her children, pursuing her masters and then her PhD, and writing a book.

For Caudill, who grew up in several male-led Christian denominations, Koonce had remarkable leadership skills and was the first woman in such a setting to encourage her to keep learning and pursuing her life goals. When Caudill launched her nonprofit advocating for special education resources and other support, she said Koonce was one of the first to donate financially to it.

She said Koonce loved her job at Covenant and she was loved by students and their families.

"She wasn't Wonder Woman, but I never saw the two in the same place," she said.

Cynthia Peak, 61

Cindy Peak is seen in this undated photo.
Courtesy of the Peak Family

Cynthia Peak was a substitute teacher at the Covenant School, according to police.

Peak's family said their "hearts are broken," confirming the loss "of our beloved Cindy Peak."

"Cindy was a pillar of the community, and a teacher beloved by all her students," her family told ABC News in a statement. "Her favorite roles in life were being a mom to her three children, a wife to her husband, and an educator to students."

"We will never stop missing her," they added. "We are grateful for the hope of Heaven. She never wavered in her faith and we know she is wrapped in the arms of Jesus. Our hearts go out to all the victims' families as we grieve this horrific tragedy."

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said his wife, Maria, was "best friends" with Peak.

"Maria woke up this morning without one of her best friends, Cindy Peak," Lee said in a video address on Tuesday evening. "Cindy was supposed to come over to have dinner with Maria last night after she filled in as a substitute teacher yesterday at Covenant."

Hallie Scruggs, 9

Hallie Scruggs is seen with her family in this undated family photo.
Courtesy Chad Scruggs

Hallie Scruggs was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the senior pastor at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, which shares a location with the Covenant School.

The school was founded in 2001 as a ministry of the church, according to the school's website.

Chad Scruggs described his daughter as "such a gift."

"We are heartbroken," he told ABC News in a statement. "Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again."

ABC News' Miles Cohen, Duan Perrin and Lisa Siversten contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.