The tragic shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday (March 27) left three 9-year-olds and three adults dead. Students Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus, and William Kinney lost their lives, as did the school’s head Katherine Koonce, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, and custodian Mike Hill.
Friends of Hill heaped praise on the father of seven and commended his undeniable character. Pastor Tim Dunavant said he hired Hill to work at Covenant over a decade ago and he likely spared many students that day. “I don’t know the details yet. But I have a feeling, when it all comes out, Mike’s sacrifice saved lives,” Dunavant wrote on Facebook. “I have nothing factual to base that upon. I just know what kind of guy he was. And I know he’s the kind of guy that would do that.”
Peak was also celebrated after her untimely death. The teacher’s family issued a statement calling her “a pillar of the community and a teacher beloved by all her students,” per the AP. Local songwriter Natalie Hemby wrote on Instagram urging those who want to honor her legacy, “Next time you jump in a pool on a beautiful summer day and find yourself floating and looking at the sky, please think of my friend, Cindy Peak.” See the touching dedication below.
Following Koonce’s death at the hands of a mass shooter, those who knew the school’s leader applauded her heroic actions and acknowledged that losing her life while protecting the school’s students spoke to the kind of person she was. “If there was any trouble in that school, she would run to it, not from it,” Koonce’s friend, Jackie Bailey, told the AP today (March 29). “She was trying to protect those kids… That’s just what I believe.”
Anna Caudill, a former art teacher, previously worked with Koonce at another school in the area and highlighted her ability to do it all. “She was an absolute dynamo and one of the smartest women I’ll ever know,” Caudill told the AP. “She wasn’t Wonder Woman, but I never saw the two in the same place.”