Survivor of Illinois July 4 Mass Shooting Was in Nashville on Vacation During School Attack: 'This Is America'

An Illinois mom who survived the Highland Park 4th of July mass shooting in 2022 says she was on vacation in Nashville on Monday when another mass shooting took place

Ashbey Beasley highland partk shooting survivor
Photo: courtesy ashbey beasley

An Illinois mom who survived the Highland Park 4th of July mass shooting says she was on vacation in Nashville on Monday when a mass shooting at an elementary school unfolded nearby.

Ashbey Beasley was visiting her sister-in-law and advocating for gun safety measures when she received a frantic call from a friend she had planned to meet for lunch.

"She said, 'There's been a shooting at the school down the street from my son's school,'" Beasley tells PEOPLE.

Beasley says she met Shaundelle Brooks, a mother who lost another son in the 2018 Antioch, Tenn., Waffle House shooting, at a gun violence rally in Washington D.C., and they became fast friends. But what should have been a casual Monday lunch date turned into a tragedy, as they both rushed to the scene of the school shooting at The Covenant School, a Christian elementary school.

"I just was like, 'Are you kidding me?'" Beasley said. "You can survive one mass shooting. You could nearly survive two mass shootings. You can connect with another mass shooting survivor and find yourself both at another mass shooting. This is America."

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Monday morning's shooting in Nashville claimed the lives of three children and three adults; the 28-year-old shooter, a former student at The Covenant School, also died in the attack.

The victims have been identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9, Hallie Scruggs, 9, William Kinney, 9, Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61.

The shooter was identified as Audrey Hale, 28.

The shooting brought back painful memories for the mom of one, who was among the throngs of people running for their lives during the deadly Highland Park massacre.

That incident left seven people dead and dozens more injured in 2022 after police say Robert E. Crimo, III allegedly sprayed a high-powered rifle from a rooftop onto a crowd of parade goers.

"People were wailing around us, falling. People had blood on them. My son became so paralyzed by fear," she recalled of last year's carnage. "I looked and he had laid face down on the ground. And he was just screaming over and over again, 'I don't want to die! I don't want to die!'"

But, sadly Beasley believes it's only a matter of time before the next mass shooting.

"There'll be another one," she says. "There'll keep being shootings until we pass some laws and don't allow civilians to buy these kinds of weapons anymore. People are going to keep dying."

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