Three brave officers who took down Nashville shooter Ashley Hill said they “just wanted to save the kids” as they spoke for the first time since the mass shooting.
Transgender Hill, 28, opened fire with 152 rounds in just 14 minutes and killed three children and three staff at Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Detective Michael Collazo and Officer Rex Engelbert were the first to rush into the school and bring down Hill – who was stationed to shoot police cars as they arrived on the scene.
The two officers remained silent after the March 27 shooting, but during a news conference, they opened up about their actions that saved dozens of lives.
They reveal that they had never worked together before that day, with Engelbert explaining that they gave each other clear orders as they made their way around the school.
Three Metropolitan Nashville Police officers who rushed to the school after being alerted to the active shooter. (LR) Jeff Mathis, Michael Collazo, and Rex Engelbert
Detective Michael Collazo (R) and Officer Rex Engelbert (L) were the first to rush into the school and defeat Hill – who was positioned to shoot police cars as they arrived at the scene
Police Chief John Drake said the officers went in “immediately” because they “just wanted to save the kids.”
Hill killed Haley Scruggs, William Kenny and Evelyn Dickhouse, all nine, Principal Dr Catherine Consey, 60, substitute teacher Cynthia Beck, 61, and Chef Mike Hill, 61.
Detective Sgt. Jeff Mathis, who has not been previously identified, is one of the officers who entered the school with Engelbert.
“The smell of gunpowder was in the air,” he said at the news conference. “Each of us stepped on a victim
I, to this day, don’t know how she did it morally. But training is what started.
Engelbert then explained that he had received a call for a “9000 code,” which stands for “active lethal offender.”
He said he’d heard calls like this before, they were false alarms, but he knew it was different.
The officer said: I couldn’t get to her fast enough. I looked for the nearest staircase I could find because I could tell it was over my head.
Detective Collazo explained how he saw the body of guardian Mike Hill lying on the floor when he first entered the school through the shot glass.
Engelbert is one of the officers who fatally shot Hill, and is told to sit in his car after being released from duty.
He added, “It was very difficult to do, because I can tell there is more work to be done.”
Detective Collazo then explains how he saw the body of guardian Mike Hale lying on the floor when he first entered the school through the shot glass.
He relayed information about Hale via video but kept scrolling through the school looking for Hale.
The detective explained that they heard gunshots, and that’s when he “kicked everything excessively”.
We made our way to a locked door, and at the time I was upset that we slammed into a locked door, but now I’m thankful we slammed into a locked door because the school was doing what they were trained to do.
I encountered that second victim lying on the ground. We had to get past the casualties because we kept firing more shots. It was so special that you could tell rifle shots had been fired.
Smoke was everywhere. Our training academy has put us through these countless times.
Police Chief Drake added that teachers at the school had recently undergone active shooting training.
He said, “Their efforts also saved lives. They knew how to get the kids up on the wall away from the windows, and out of the hallways, where we could have caused more casualties, and they were able to protect those kids as well.”