A Dallas church held a prayer service Tuesday for the victims of the Nashville school shooting, one of whom had a connection to the congregation.
Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCBC) remembered Hallie Scruggs, one of three children killed in the massacre at The Covenant School on Monday. Hallie was the 9-year-old daughter of Chad Scruggs, the current lead pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville and the former associate pastor at PCBC.
The alleged shooter, identified by police as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was shot and killed by Nashville police after breaking into the private Christian school and killing three children and three adults.
The Dallas Express was on hand at PCBC to witness church members coming together in prayer.
“I am a close personal friend with the former pastor, his wife, and their now three children,” said Phil Barnett of Dallas. “I knew them since that little girl was born, and it’s tragic, and we’re heartbroken.
“Our prayers go not only to the survivors of the six victims but particularly the perpetrator and that family.”
Nashville police said the suspected shooter was a former student of The Covenant School in Nashville. The suspect had maps of the school and conducted other surveillance before the attack, police said Monday.
“[The suspect’s parents] had had her in that school, and my assumption is they were good Christian people trying to do the right thing, yet their child went completely off the rails. The heartbreak that they must be feeling is incomprehensible,” Barnett said.
Barnett told The Dallas Express that Hallie’s brothers were like her own Secret Service. He went on to relate a memorable and personal story about the family:
“I was at their house one time, and all the kids go out in the yard, and the oldest little brother picks up Hallie and puts her on his bicycle to push her around, and the other two brothers are fighting for when they get a turn,” Barnett said.
“We’ve got to take security at churches and schools much more seriously, but my heart is full of grief and forgiveness for that really disturbed young person that just has committed such heinous evil, and I just see that as lost sheep,” he said.
“Who needs the love of Christ more than people like that?”
Rebecca Lutz, an attendee of the vigil and friend of the family, spoke with reporters about her time with the family and babysitting little Hallie.
“She was precious,” Lutz said. “I just got to see her again; Chad was our Winter Grace speaker several weeks ago, and the whole family came. I didn’t get to see everybody, but I got to see Hallie.”
“Anyway, we can just honor and lift them up and pray for them; it’s so important to all of us because we just love them dearly,” Lutz added.
The investigation of the mass shooting incident at The Covenant School is ongoing.
The two other children killed were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus and William Kinney, both 9.
The three adults killed were 61-year-old Cynthia Peak, 61-year-old Mike Hill, and 60-year-old Katherine Koonce. Koonce was the school’s top administrator.