A Tennessee congressman from the district in which six people were fatally shot at a school on Monday is facing criticism over his family’s Christmas photo, where he and his relatives are seen proudly brandishing assault rifles.
Rep. Andy Ogles and his family, including two of their three children, gathered around a festive Christmas tree while showcasing an array of weapons in 2021. They all wore broad smiles as they posed for the camera with pride.
Audrey Hale conducted a brutal attack in Nashville with her assault rifle; the same type of weapon that his wife and daughter brandished.
This week’s tragedy left Ogles and his family “devasted”, however when asked by NBC if he had any regrets about sharing the Christmas photograph, Mr. Ogles answered: “Why would I regret a photograph with my family exercising my rights to bear arms?”
The caption adorning the family’s holiday image read: “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
Representing the constituents of Tennessee’s 5th District, including Nashville, is Congressman Ogles.
On Monday, a tragedy occurred at the Covenant School – a private Christian institution. Three 9-year-old students and three employees were mercilessly slain by Hale’s gunfire.
At approximately 10:15 a.m., Hale began her 14-minute rampage, culminating in her death at the hands of arriving police officers.
Ogles released a statement in response to the shooting, “We are sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those lost.
“As a father of three, I am utterly heartbroken by this senseless act of violence.”
However, some people were not pleased with his statement.
An obviously astonished Twitter user posted the Christmas photo, accompanied by the question: “This you?”
In response to Ogles’ statement, another person shared the same photo with a comment that read: “We see you.”
Utilizing two assault rifles and a handgun, Hale perpetrated the attack according to police. Though law enforcement referred to Hale as female, they/them pronouns are typically used in reference to this killer since they identified as transgender. Furthermore, it is said that a manifesto was written by the perpetrator prior to committing the act of violence.
Prior to orchestrating the attack, authorities have revealed that the shooter conducted meticulous research.
When officers investigated Hale’s vehicle, which had been abandoned near the crime scene, and home they discovered proof of prior planning. Maps in particular were found that outlined a clear plan for this criminal act.
Hale recklessly burst into the school in an attempt to enter via a locked side entrance, according to police. Fortunately, the school had already established preventative measures for this type of scenario.
Tragically, the nine-year-olds of Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney fell victim to the tragedy as did Cynthia Peak (61), Mike Hill (61), and Katherine Koonce (60). These individuals who were taken too soon included a school janitor and a substitute teacher.
Among the children, Hallie was especially special as she represented Covenant Church’s pastor Chad Scruggs’ daughter.
With over two decades of experience in the field, Mrs. Koonce joined the school as its headmistress in 2016. Moreover, her daughter Anna was on staff there as both a faculty member and student assistant.
On Tuesday, The Covenant School released a statement noting that: “Our community is heartbroken. We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church.”
Law enforcement has recently released multiple videos concerning the attack, including footage from police body cameras and a video of Hale’s path through the school to commit her violence.
Tennessee’s politics have been dominated by the controversy surrounding gun rights, with Republicans like Ogles advocating for a broader right to bear arms. LGBTQ+ and abortion legislation are also contentious issues in the state.
Rep. Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican, expressed his sentiments to the Recount following Monday’s shooting incident, “Three precious little kids lost their lives and I believe three adults … and the shooter, of course.”
Describing it as a “horrible, horrible situation,” he went on to say “We’re not gonna fix it.
“Criminals are going to be criminals,” he said. “And my daddy fought in the Second World War, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese, and he told me, he said, ‘Buddy … if somebody wants to take you out and doesn’t mind losing their life, there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it.’”
Averianna Patton, a former classmate of Hale’s, recently divulged harrowing messages that she exchanged with the murderer just minutes prior to the massacre.
At 9:57 a.m., Hale sent Patton a message, as she shared with NewsChannel5, “So basically that post I made on here about you, that was basically a suicide note. I’m planning to die today.
“THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!! …You’ll probably hear about me on the news after I die,” Hale continued.
“This is my last goodbye. I love you … See you again in another life.”
She signed the note “Audrey (Aiden).”