NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 28-year-old woman responsible for the six deaths in a mass shooting at a Nashville school on Monday represents a rare trend -- females are rarely the main assailants.
The New York Times, citing a national database of 172 shootings in the U.S. since 1966 compiled by The Violence Project, reported that Monday’s shooting was only the fourth solely committed by a woman or girl involving four or more victims.
In two other cases, a woman and a man teamed up in a shooting, according to the study.
The woman, a Nashville resident who police believe had once attended The Covenant School where she opened fire on Monday, was killed by officers. Nashville police identified the shooter as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, a Nashville resident who identified as being transgender.
Police identified the shooter by his name at birth and did not provide another name, The Tennessean reported. Hale used male pronouns, police said.
Female assailants in mass shootings in the U.S. — like the one that occurred on Monday in Nashville — are extremely rare, according to the Violence Project, which maintains a national database of mass shootings dating to 1966. https://t.co/rAK7j63qhV— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 27, 2023
“The female issue is amazingly rare,” Robert Louden, a retired New York City police officer and professor emeritus of criminal justice at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, New Jersey, told the Times.
According to Nashville television station WKRN, the latest data from the FBI shows that in 2021, there were 61 shootings designated as active shooter incidents. During those incidents, 103 people were killed and 140 wounded, excluding the shooters, the television station reported.
Only one of the active shooters in 2021 was female, the FBI data showed. The agency’s study of 160 “active shooter” incidents between 2000 and 2013 found that only six involved females.
The Statista Research Department noted that between 1982 and February 2023, only three of the 135 documented active shooter incidents involved females.
The numbers may vary, but what remains consistent is that women are rarely the main assailants in mass shootings.
Louden told the Times that female shooters in homicide cases are often involved in domestic violence cases.
“Women do kill somebody who had been an abuser,” Louden told the newspaper. “Women do not kill or shoot or hold hostages as much as men do. It’s few and far between.”
On May 6, 2021, a 12-year-old girl in Idaho brought a gun to Rigby Middle School and wounded two students and a custodian, according to East Idaho News. The child, who was disarmed by a teacher, was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder. She later pleaded guilty to all three charges and entered a plea agreement.
The girl will remain on probation for 36 months after her release, and she could remain in the custody of the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections until she turns 19, according to East Idaho News.
The girl could also remain in jail until she is 21 and will remain on probation for 36 months after her release, according to court documents.
On April 3, 2018, Nasim Najafi Aghdam walked into YouTube’s corporate headquarters in San Bruno, California, and wounded three people before fatally shooting herself, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Police said that Aghdam’s anger over what she believed to be unfair treatment by the video platform caused her to drive 500 miles from San Diego.
She complained about “close-minded” YouTube employees suppressing her page views and stifling her content, according to the Los Angeles Times.
.“Youtube filtered my channels to keep them from getting views!” she wrote on the site.
WKRN, citing data from the Gun Violence Archive, reported that few incidents involving four or more shooting victims in Nashville involved female shooters.
There were three incidents reported in Nashville last year, and all three suspects were identified as males, according to the television station.
Monday’s school shooting is believed to be the fifth in the Nashville area since 2011 and the first since 2018, The Tennessean reported.
“I was literally moved to tears to see this as the kids were being ushered out of the building,” Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake said during a news conference on Monday.
“This is the ultimate crime when school children and caregivers are the victims of senseless gun violence,” Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk said, according to The Tennessean.