A former basketball teammate of Nashville Christian school shooter Audrey Hale has come forward and said she texted her before carrying out a mass shooting that left three children and three adults dead on Monday.
Averianna Patton, a former teammate and classmate of Hale, said she received messages from Hale, whose Instagram profile used the name “Aiden.” Officials said that Hale was biologically female, while a police spokesperson said she identified as male.
“So basically that post I made on here about you, that was basically a suicide note. I’m planning to die today,” Hale wrote, according to messages that Patton provided to local outlet NewsChannel 5.
“This is my last goodbye. I love you … See you again in another life,” Haley wrote, signing the message as “Audrey (Aiden).” Based on the message, screenshots of which were posted online, it’s was not clear that Hale was planning on committing a mass shooting.
In her response, Patton attempted to give Hale a positive message and encouragement. “Audrey! You have so much more life to live. I pray God keeps and covers you,” she wrote back.
In response, Hale wrote that: “I know but I don’t want to live. I’m so sorry. I’m not trying to upset you or get attention. I just need to die. I wanted to tell you first because you are the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen and known all my life.” She added: “My family doesn’t know what I’m about to do. One day this will make more sense. I’ve left more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen.”
After the exchange, Patton said she communicated with the Suicide Prevention Help Line.
“I tried to comfort and encourage her and subsequently reached out to the Suicide Prevention Help Line after being instructed to by my father at 10:08 am. Audrey has shared with others that she had been suicidal in the past and I knew to take this serious,” Patton remarked.
Patton added that she called the Nashville Davidson County Sheriff’s Office to alert them about Hale’s situation before she was told to call the non-emergency number.
“After phone calls from friends and Audrey’s name was released as the shooter at Covenant Nashville school, I learned that Audrey was the shooter and that she had reached out to me prior to the shooting,” Patton said. “My heart is with all of the families affected and I’m devastated by what has happened.”
On Tuesday, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Hale was being treated by a doctor for an unspecified “emotional disorder” and said her parents were unaware that she possessed seven firearms. Hale, he said, hid her legally purchased weapons inside the house without her parents’ knowledge.
Prior to the attack, Hale was not on the police department’s radar, Drake said. A manifesto and a map were found in connection to the shooting, he said, although he did not elaborate on the contents of the manifesto.
“We have a manifesto, we have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident,” he told reporters. “We have a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”
In that news conference, Drake told reporters that Hale at one point positioned herself on a higher-level floor and opened fire at police cars, attempting to conceal herself so she wouldn’t be shot by responding officers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.