NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A large crowd of mourners gathered in front of the Metropolitan Nashville Courthouse on Wednesday for a citywide vigil, two days after a gunman killed three students and three adults at The Covenant School.
The crowd spilled beyond the courthouse steps and filled the grass plaza in downtown Nashville, The Tennessean reported. Mourners stood with small white candles as city officials and first lady Jill Biden attended the vigil.
Biden visited The Covenant School earlier in the day, according to the newspaper.
Mayor John Cooper was the first speaker at the vigil, calling Monday “our city’s worst day.”
“I so wish we did not need to be here, but we need to be here -- together as a community,” Cooper told the crowd.
Three 9-year-old children -- Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney -- along with school head Katherine Koonce, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak and custodian Mike Hill, were killed when the shooter, identified as Audrey Hale, opened fire after shooting through glass doors to gain entry.
Hale was killed by Metro Nashville Police Department officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo as police were able to take down the shooter within 14 minutes after receiving a 911 call, The Tennessean reported.
Cooper told the parents, family members and friends of the victims that they were not alone.
”A grieving city joins you,” Cooper said. “A grieving country.”
Cooper’s comments were echoed by Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake.
“Many of us hoped and prayed these evil acts we saw would never happen in Nashville,” Drake said. “We are grateful to the team of officers who rushed into the school building on Monday.”
State Rep. Rev. Harold Love, the final scheduled speaker, read a prayer to honor the victims, according to The Tennessean.
Music during the vigil was played by nine-time Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow, who sang “I Shall Believe.”
Ketch Secor, of Old Crow Medicine Show, sang “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” Margo Price sang Bob Dylan’s “Tears of Rage.”