Tennessee’s governor plans to increase funding for school safety, posting armed guards at schools, in the wake of this week’s shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville that killed three young students and three staffers.
Republican Gov. Bill Lee made the promise as the state reels from one of the most violent school shootings in the its history and as more details emerged about the “obsessive” and “stalkerish” behavior of shooter Audrey Hale.
“I think we all understand when people are fearful, when people are angry, when people lash out. I have those same emotions myself, we all do,” Lee told The Tennessean Friday.
“We have an obligation, I have an obligation, to do what I can and work together with leaders across this community to address people’s concerns and to protect our kids in whatever way we can.”
The school safety plan would expand on a proposal to place armed guards, known as School Resource Officers, at every public school in the state and provide funding for private schools to take similar actions, The Tennessean reported.
The plan is contingent upon legislative approval.
At least one staffer at the Covenant School was armed, according to a teacher who called 911 for help during the attack.
Lee stopped short of committing to extreme risk protection legislation (ERPO), commonly known as “red flag” laws.
Under these laws, currently in place in Florida and 18 other states, including several led by Republicans, authorities can pursue legal orders in civil court to remove weapons from those who might be a risk to themselves or the community.
“Most practical, thoughtful people believe that individuals who are a threat to themselves or to others shouldn’t have access to weapons,” Lee told The Tennessean. “In my view, that’s a practical, thoughtful approach.”
The newspaper also included details from its interview with members of a middle school basketball team who played with Hale, who was described as a “bench warmer” by Antoine Buchanan, who used to coach the girls’ basketball team at the Isaiah T. Creswell middle school.
Mia Phillips, 28, was on the Creswell team with Hale and in the same grade.
“We felt she was shy,” Phillips told the newspaper. “So we embraced her and really befriended her.”
Later, at university, Phillips said she was surprised when Hale tracked her down. “I’m trying to be as respectful and also as honest as possible,” Phillips said. “It felt obsessive. It felt like stalkerish behavior.”
On Monday, the 28-year-old Hale blasted into the Covenant School, a private elementary school, through locked side doors and crawled in through the shattered glass.
During a nearly 15 minute rampage, Hale, who was transgender and under medical care for an emotional disorder, killed three 9-year-old pupils, a substitute teacher, a custodian and the head of school.
She was shot dead by two police officers.
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