Audrey Hale was devastated by the death of a close friend before the attack, staff say

The gunman, who killed three adults and three children in a school shooting in Nashville, was devastated by the death of a close friend in the months leading up to the attack, according to people who knew the gunman.

Audrey Hale, 28, who was shot dead by police at Covenant School during Monday’s tragedy, was described as distraught at the death of Sydney Shere Sims in a car crash in August, according to NBC News.

Maria Colomy, a former Hale’s faculty member at Nossi College of Art & Design, told the Hale News Agency that she posted messages of grief on social media following Sims’ death.

“Lots of comments about ‘You were all that mattered’ [and] ‘I’ll miss you forever’ etc.” Colony said.

“After Sydney’s tragic death, Audrey was truly heartbroken,” said Hale’s former classmate Samira Hardcastle New York Post.

“I just feel like it [Hale] took it differently than some of us,” she said, adding that Hale “still posted about Sydney almost daily” and may have had an “infatuation” with Sims.

Hardcastle separately told NBC News that she last saw Hale taping a show in Nashville a month ago, but they only spoke briefly. “She [Hale] seemed the same as always, just kind of calm,” Hardcastle said. “But I don’t know if I could break up that two-minute interaction and say how she felt.”

According to, Sims’ twin sister Taylor reacted with anger to reports linking her sibling’s death and Hale’s attack. In a private Instagram message, Taylor reportedly wrote: “[The truth] none of us knows why [Hale] did this. So please don’t attach such an ugly, disgusting tragedy to my sister’s name. This is very sick and just shows that people just talk.”

Taylor reportedly went on to say that she and her late sister “have had no contact with [Hale] for years” and that “we all played middle school basketball together. That’s it and that’s all!” Taylor added that she saw Hale “for the first time in a while” at her sister’s funeral.

The recording Hardcastle last saw Hale on was for their mutual friend and radio personality Averianna Patton’s show. Patton was the person who received Instagram messages from Hale in the minutes before the attack began.

On the news, Hale told Patton that he “plans to die today” and that “something bad is going to happen.” Hale also told Patton that she was the first to hear about his plan because Patton was “the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen and known in my entire life.”

Despite their apparently close relationship, Patton, who played basketball with Hale in middle school, said she had not seen Patton for years prior to the attack. “I knew [Hale] when we were kids, when we were younger,” Patton told CNN’s Don Lemon. “I didn’t know the adult Audrey. I still addressed her as Audrey.” (A source close to the Hale family told The Daily Beast that Hale identified as transgender and began using he/him pronouns “relatively recently.”)

When asked why Patton thought Hale decided to reach out to her specifically, she suggested it might be because she’s “an influencer here in Nashville.” Patton added that she worked for radio and news and that Hale was “last on my TV show,” but she’s not sure why Hale reached out. “To give you a direct answer, I’m asking God the same question,” Patton said.

Police have yet to find a motive for the massacre, although Nashville Police Chief John Drake said in an interview Monday that Hale’s “grudge” toward the Covenant School may have played a role. Principal Katherine Koonce, 61, was one of those killed in the attack. A Nashville councilman said Koonce died after “walking straight towards the gunman” after hearing the first shots.

The other adult victims were named by authorities as school administrator Mike Hill, 61, and substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61. The three 9-year-olds killed were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney and Hallie Scruggs. Audrey Hale was devastated by the death of a close friend before the attack, staff say

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