'We Are Grieving Tremendous Loss': Here's What We Know About the Nashville School Shooting Victims

The victims have been identified by authorities as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all 9 years old, and Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61

Top Row, L-R: Katherine Koonce, Mike Hill, Cynthia Peak Bottom Row, L-R: Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs.
Top Row, L-R: Katherine Koonce, Mike Hill, Cynthia Peak Bottom Row, L-R: Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs. Photo: The Covenant School; Facebook (4)

Three children and three adults were killed during a shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville on Monday after a 28-year-old former student opened fire inside the building.

Nashville authorities have confirmed that the shooter gained entrance to the Covenant School by shooting through a glass door before killing six people. Two police officers responding to a 10:13 a.m. call engaged the shooter on the second floor of the building, killing the assailant.

"Our community is heartbroken," the Covenant School said in a statement emailed to PEOPLE. "We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church. We are focused on loving our students, our families, our faculty and staff, and beginning the process of healing."

Here's what we know about the victims:

Hallie Scruggs, 9

Hallie Scruggs Where was the image taken - When was the image taken - Around Christmas time Who took the photograph - Hallie’s brother Full credit line – Courtesy of the Scrugg family Source contact information: Name: Kara Scrugg Arnold Phone: (615) 289-8951 E-mail: Image sent by: Kara Scrugg Arnold
Courtesy of the Scruggs family

Hallie Scruggs is the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the senior pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church, which is affiliated with the school.

Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, where Chad Scruggs used to be the associate pastor, confirmed Hallie's death in a statement to PEOPLE: "We love the Scruggs family and mourn with them over their precious daughter Hallie," PCPC Senior Pastor Mark Davis said in the statement.

"We are heartbroken," Chad told ABC News in a statement. "Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again."

Chad described his daughter to the network as "such a gift."

Hallie's aunt, Kara Scruggs Arnold, tells PEOPLE that Hallie is the youngest of four children of Chad and his wife Jada. Her brothers are John Randall, 16, Charlie, 14, and Carter, 12.

"She was very athletic, loved to play sports, soccer and basketball," Scruggs said. "Especially all the games I saw she always scored like a million goals."

Kara described the Scruggs' as "a very close-knit, down to earth community and family."

Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9

Evelyn Dieckhaus
Evelyn Dieckhaus.

Evelyn Dieckhaus was a third grade student at the school, according to The Tennessean. She has one sister, a fifth grader, who said, "I don't want to be an only child" during a vigil held at a local church on Monday evening, the outlet reports.

"Our hearts are completely broken," the Dieckhaus family said in a statement, KMOV reporter Paige Hulsey reports. "We cannot believe this has happened. Evelyn was a shining light in this world. We appreciate all the love and support but ask for space as we grieve."

"Evelyn made an impact on this world, and she will continue to," Clay Stauffer, senior minister of Woodmont Christian Church, told News Channel 5.

"[Evelyn's parents are] being surrounded by their family and friends," Stauffer aded, the outlet reports. "Their daughter Evelyn was a shining light and an amazing person. She was loved not only by her family [but] by her church. We're surrounding them and picking them up — helping them move forward."

William Kinney, 9

William Kinney was also a student at the Covenant School, The Tennessean reports.

"Will had an unflappable spirit," a GoFundMe created for the Kinney family reads. "He was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others. He loved his sisters, adored his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and was always excited to host friends of every age. Sweet Will knew no strangers, and our hearts our broken for his family as they try to find their way forward."

Katherine Koonce, 60

https://twitter.com/CovenantKnights/status/720708443322085378 The Covenant School @CovenantKnights Read about our new Head of School, Dr. Katherine Koonce, in her own words. We are excited! http://bit.ly/1TUioaH
Dr. Katherine Koonce. The Covenant School

The head of the Covenant School, Dr. Katherine Koonce, was also killed Monday morning.

Diane Button told PEOPLE she met Koonce when her 8-year-old daughter started at Christ Presbyterian Academy, where Koonce worked before moving to the Covenant School.

"Katherine was as solid as a friend could be," Button said. "Her faith was her foundation. Her family was her greatest love, yet she always wanted to work and give back so other families and children could also feel loved and cared for."

Prior to her start at the school, Koonce served as the Director of Learning Services and Academic Dean at Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy. According to her LinkedIn profile, she received her doctorate degree from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2015.

Koonce was announced as The Covenant School's new Head of School in April 2016.

Koonce's niece, Heather Benge, remembered her aunt in a Facebook post.

"I have no doubt she was doing everything she could to protect her students - precious children," Benge wrote. "She was a kind person and a fearless teacher and I can see by the pure amount of love being shown towards her (and our family) right now that she touched the lives of many. She was a beacon of light, a faithful servant and will be missed greatly."

"If there was any trouble in that school, she would run to it, not from it," Koonce's friend Jackie Bailey told the Associated Press. "She was trying to protect those kids … That's just what I believe."

Mike Hill, 61

Mike Hill https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=454550401384645&set=a.101566233349732
Mike Hill. Facebook

Mike Hill was a beloved custodian at the school and had worked at the Covenant School for more than 13 years, according to a friend.

In a Facebook post, Hill's daughter, Brittany Hill, remembered her father.

"I have watched school shootings happen over the years and never thought I would lose a loved one over a person trying to solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution," Brittany wrote.

She ended her post with a message for others, writing, "hug your parents and children a little tighter."

Tim Dunavant, a former employee of the Covenant church and school and a pastor at Hartsville First United Methodist Church in Tennessee, said in a Facebook post that he had hired Hill at the Covenant School.

"I don't know the details yet. But I have a feeling, when it all comes out, Mike's sacrifice saved lives," Dunavant wrote. "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. Goodbye Mike, I'm going to miss those encouraging texts out of the blue from you."

A GoFundMe has been created for Hill's family.

"Mike was the beloved father of eight children," the fundraiser's description reads. "More notably, he was 'Big Mike' to his students, who will surely feel his loss in the years to come. Per his family, he took great pleasure and found tremendous joy in his job and through those students."

Cynthia "Cindy" Broyles Peak, 61

Cynthia Peak
Cynthia Peak. Facebook

Cynthia "Cindy" Broyles Peak was a substitute teacher at the school, according to Nashville authorities.

"Cindy was a pillar of the community, and a teacher beloved by all her students," Peak's family said in a statement, ABC News reports. "Her favorite roles in life were being a mom to her three children, a wife to her husband, and an educator to students."

"We will never stop missing her," the statement continues. "We are grateful for the hope of Heaven. She never wavered in her faith and we know she is wrapped in the arms of Jesus. Our hearts go out to all the victims' families as we grieve this horrific tragedy."

"When I think about Cindy, I think about a sweet smile that she had," Peggy Murphy, a friend of Peak's, told KSLA News 12. "I think about how her spirit was just so sweet and it was so kind."

Chuck Owen described Peak as a "lifelong friend" in a Facebook post. Owen said Peak lived in Leesville, La., as a child and became fast friends with his sister, Mae.

"She and my sister were the closest of friends growing up and it seems like Cindy was around for all of my childhood," Owen wrote.

Owen said when Mae died, he remembered seeing Cindy first, writing that "she was right here to grieve her old friend."

"Cindy was a devout servant and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ," Owen continued. "She told me that she got saved in college and that God's love changed her life. I grieve through tears as I write these words, but I know Cindy is in Heaven with her father, Dr. Bill Broyles, her mother, Nell Broyles, and her oldest sister, Diane. I also can take solace that she and my sister are once again holding hands and smiling."

Peak is survived by her husband, daughter and two sons, according to Owen. "Her family is beautiful," he wrote.

According to a statement from Texas Christian University, Peak was a 1983 graduate of the university.

How to help

You can donate to the families of the victims through the The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. ViVE and VictimsFirst have also created GoFundMe pages for donations. Both fundraisers are verified.

* With reporting by Caitlin Keating

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