A survivor of the Highland Park shooting, Ashbey Beasley, was on her way to meet the mother of a mass shooting victim when she learned that a school shooting was happening nearby at The Covenant School in Nashville.
On Monday, three children and three adults were killed by a 28-year-old shooter who was then gunned down by police at a Presbyterian private school in Nashville. Police say the shooter was a former student of The Covenant School and was armed with two assault-style rifles and a handgun.
Nashville police identified the victims on Twitter as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all age nine; Cynthia Peak, age 61, Katherine Koonce, age 60, and Mike Hill, age 61.
Later that day, Beasley jumped in front of cameras during a livestream — hijacking a police press conference — to make an impassioned plea to end gun violence.
Beasley, a gun control lobbyist who survived the 2022 shooting at a Fourth of July parade with her young son, was on her way to meet Shaundelle Brooks, whose son was killed in a 2018 Waffle House shooting, when Brooks learned that her surviving son’s school was on lockdown due to the shooting at The Covenant School.
After experiencing a “wave of emotions,” Beasley and Brooks decided to divert and meet at the scene of the shooting.
“Are you freaking kidding me right now?” Beasley told the Chicago Tribune by phone as she drove to the school. “What are our lawmakers doing?”
As a news conference with Metro Nashville Police was concluding, Beasley stepped up to the microphone and asked reporters, “aren’t you guys tired of covering this?”
“Aren’t you guys tired of being here and having to cover all of these mass shootings?” Beasley said. “I’m from Highland Park, Illinois. My son and I survived a mass shooting over the summer. I am in Tennessee on a family vacation, with my son, visiting my sister-in-law.”
“I have been lobbying in D.C. since we survived a mass shooting in July. I have met with over 130 lawmakers,” Beasley said. “How is this still happening? How are our children still dying and why are we failing them?”
Beasley’s comments were caught on video by multiple news organizations and broadcast live on Fox News.
“Gun violence is the number one killer of children and teens,” Beasley said shortly before Fox News cut away, the Chicago Tribune reported. “It has overtaken cars. Assault weapons are contributing to the border crisis and fentanyl.”
“These mass shootings will continue to happen until our lawmakers step up and pass gun safety legislation,” she said.
Beasley had stopped in Nashville for the visit after making her 12th lobbying trip to Washington D.C. since surviving the Highland Park shooting with her then six-year-old son Beau.
Beau, now seven, spoke at the “Generation Lockdown” summit at the National Mall on Friday — a few days before the Nashville shooting — alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call for Congressional action on gun control.
“I am a mass shooting survivor,” Beau said into a megaphone, which was being held by his mother. “I ran for my life at a parade. I am never going to a parade again. Assault weapons don’t belong at parades.”
Beasley told USA Today that she and her son have been struggling to cope with lingering trauma and use lobbying as a means of healing.
“The activism has sort of become my therapy,” Beasley said. “There’s no absolute answer that’s going to prevent every single gun death. But we have to do everything in our power to do the things that we know will work.”
In a separate event, Joylyn Bukovac, a reporter with NBC affiliate WSMV, revealed on the air that she herself was a survivor of a school shooting while reporting on The Covenant School.
Bukovac shared that her Alabama middle school was once the scene of a mass shooting and she witnessed one of her peers be shot and killed.
“I’ve seen exactly what gun violence can do first hand,” Bukovac said, recounting the fear and shock she experienced while waiting for police to secure the school.
After her report, her outpouring of spontaneous emotion prompted a resident who was listening in from nearby to give Bukovac a hug.
— With files from The Associated Press
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