Nashville, Tennessee – Angry parents and students gathered at the Tennessee State Capitol Thursday to advocate for gun reform after Monday’s mass shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville.

Former “Bachelor” star Aly Fedatovskaya, a Nashville resident and mom of two, was among the protesters, writing on Instagram: “This morning was extremely emotional and powerful. Nashville wants change!!!!”

“I will scream and scream and cry until I have nothing left!” she wrote. “I want my children to live and your children to live.”

And on Wednesday evening, hundreds of people gathered for a candlelight vigil to mourn and honor the three children and three staff killed at Covenant School.

A cross stands above the crowd during a vigil for the victims of the Covenant School shooting on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee.

(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Local, state and federal officials along with dignitaries, religious leaders and community leaders attended the somber ceremony at One Square Park in the heart of the Tennessee capital. First Lady Jill Biden and songwriter Sheryl Crow were among those in attendance, though Biden did not address the crowd.

Different speakers took turns reading out the names of the dead and expressing their condolences to the relatives and mourners.

People pay their respects at the entrance of Covenant School, which has become a memorial to the victims, on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee.

People pay their respects at the entrance of Covenant School, which has become a memorial to the victims, on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee.

AP Photo/John Amis

“Just two days ago was the worst day in our city,” Nashville Mayor John Cooper told the crowd. “I so wish we weren’t here, but we have to be here.”

After a shooter opened fire at a school Monday morning, responding officers shot and killed the suspect about 14 minutes after the initial 911 call came in, according to the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department.

In one dramatic 911 call, a woman told a dispatcher she was hiding in an art room closet. She said she heard gunshots and asked rescuers to hurry. At one point she whispered to someone in the closet to be quiet.

Police identified the slain children as 9-year-old students Evelyn Dickhouse, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs. The adult victims were identified as 61-year-old custodian Mike Hill, 60-year-old school principal Kathryn Kuhns and 61-year-old substitute teacher Cynthia Peek.

Children and a woman leave the reunion center at Woodmont Baptist Church after the school shooting, Monday, March 27, 2023, in Nashville, Tennessee.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

During a vigil Wednesday, former local school administrator Tricia Drake said she couldn’t stop thinking about her last conversation with Koonce, who she said advised her on how to best prepare for an active shooter.

“My last conversation with her in August was about who she was using for her active shooter training, because I know she would have researched anybody,” Drake said in a tearful interview with ABC News. “We ended up using the same active shooter training at the school where I was also the superintendent. I can’t believe that was my last conversation with her.’

Drake said she knew Koonce had left her mark when she saw the footage police released from the body cameras of the two responding officers. One video shows a Covenant School employee meeting Officer Rex Engelbert at the school’s main entrance and telling him, “All the kids are locked up, but we have two kids that we don’t know where they are.” She is then seen using the key to unlock the door so the officers can go inside.

“Students were in their classrooms, locked down, a professional was outside to direct the metro police. She had a key, what her numbers were, she knew exactly where the students were going to be, she was prepared,” Drake told ABC News. “I’m sure they did those drills and it’s thanks to Catherine and the foresight she had to make sure her staff were prepared.”

MORE: Camera Video Released of Police Shooting Nashville School Shooter; 3 children and 3 adults died

Drake, who declined to name the school in Nashville where she previously worked, said she went through the same shooting training as Koonce and that the key is to adopt a “warrior mentality” by accepting injury rather than death. . Part of teaching, she said, is to throw students out of windows and run as far away as possible. Drake said she believes Koons’ training saved Monday’s life.

Drake also recalled the moment she knew something was seriously wrong, when news of the shooting at Covenant School began to spread.

“I texted my sister and my friends: This is Catherine’s school. I know she will come out. She will come out at any time and tell everyone that everything is under control, that everything is fine,” Drake said. “And I, like everyone else, was waiting for Catherine to come out, and I thought it was so strange that she was not visible. She was so professional, so prepared, so dedicated to her teacher and those sweet kids of hers, and it’s just so unbelievable that this could happen in our town.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy broke his silence on the shooting at a press conference Thursday, arguing that legislation alone is not the answer.

“I don’t think any piece of legislation is going to solve this. I think the people together, working together, are solving a problem that’s much bigger than us,” he said.

McCarthy said the country needs to have a “serious conversation” about mental illness.

“We have to deal with mental illness. We need to see what makes people think that you would go to innocent children, to a Christian school, to shoot,” he said.

The suspect, 28-year-old Audrey Hale of Nashville, was a former student at Covenant School, according to police. Nashville Metropolitan Police Chief John Drake told reporters Tuesday that it appears the school was likely targeted, but that “schools were an accidental target.”

The police chief told reporters Monday that Hale was female and identified as transgender, but did not provide further details. A police spokesman later told ABC News that the suspect was identified as female at birth, but pointed to a social media account linked to Hale that used the pronouns he/him.

The suspect was armed with two assault rifles, a handgun and “substantial ammunition” at the time of the attack, police said. Investigators then searched Hale’s home in Nashville, where they seized “a shotgun shell, a second gun and other evidence,” police said in a Monday news release.

The police chief said the suspect legally purchased seven guns at five different local stores and hid some of those guns at home. Hale was under “doctor’s care for an emotional disturbance,” the police chief said, and Hale’s parents “were under the impression that this happened when she sold the only gun” they believed Hale owned.

Hale also had a detailed map of the school, as well as “writings and a book that we believe to be a manifesto,” the police chief told ABC News in an interview Tuesday on “Good Morning America.”

“So far we have not been able to determine the motives,” he added. “The investigation is still ongoing.”

Video from school surveillance cameras shows the suspect arriving in a vehicle and parking in the parking lot at 9:54 a.m. ET. Moments later, the suspect is seen shooting through a school-side door and entering the building. According to police, Hale went from the first floor to the second floor, firing several shots.

Police received a 911 call about an active shooting at the school at 10:13 a.m. ET. When officers responded to the scene, the suspect was shooting at police cars from a second-story window, police said.

A Nashville Mom Witnessed Students Rushing to Safety During a School Shooting; help jumps into action

Video from the two responding officers’ body cameras shows them entering the school, going to the second floor at the sound of gunfire and finding the suspect in the lobby near a window. After the officer yells “reload,” officers Rex Engelbert, a four-year veteran, and Michael Collazo, a nine-year veteran, both shoot the suspect.

Covenant School, a private Christian school for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, has about 209 students and 40 to 50 staff members. The school does not have a resource officer, police said.

In a statement released Monday night, Covenant School said its community is “heartbroken.”

“We are grieving a tremendous loss and are shocked by the terror that destroyed our church and school,” the school said. “We are focused on loving our students, our families, faculty and staff and beginning the recovery process.”

ABC News’ Libby Cathy, Vera Drymon, Alex Fall, Matt Foster, Ben Gittleson, James Hill, Doug Lantz, Molly Nagle, Olivia Austin, Lauren Peller, Darren Reynolds and John Santucci contributed to this report.

Previous articleHero tow truck driver credited with saving motorist’s life after crash in Rutherford, NJ
Next articleGrandmother faces charges after two grandchildren died in her care less than a year apart