‘Didn’t hesitate’: Police identify 2 officers who took down Nashville school shooter

WARNING: This body camera video is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers. (Source: WSMV, Metro Nashville police, CNN)
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 3:28 PM CDT
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WARNING: The video in this story is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Gray News/WSMV) – The officers who took down the shooter at The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday have been identified.

Officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo shot and killed 28-year-old school shooting suspect Audrey Hale, police said.

Engelbert and Collazo have been with the Metro Nashville Police Department for four and nine years, respectively.

Police said Hale was fatally shot on the second floor in a common area of The Covenant School, where she had been opening fire through a window at arriving police cars.

Nashville police released body camera footage from both officers who shot Hale.

Officer Rex Engelbert and officer Michael Collazo shot and killed 28-year-old school shooting...
Officer Rex Engelbert and officer Michael Collazo shot and killed 28-year-old school shooting suspect Audrey Hale.(Metro Nashville Police Department)

While police response at other school shootings has been widely criticized, such as at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, experts say police in Nashville did everything right.

From the time Hale arrived on campus to the time she was shot and killed, just 14 minutes had elapsed. In Uvalde, it was 77 minutes.

At a press conference Tuesday, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said the first 911 call came in at 10:13 a.m., and Hale was shot and killed at 10:24 a.m. – that’s just 11 minutes.

Ken Alexandrow, a former Metro Nashville police officer who spent 26 years on the force, said the police response Monday was “as good as it could have possibly been.”

Engelbert’s body camera video shows him arrive on campus and enter the school quickly while directing other officers to follow behind him – although he was prepared to go in alone.

“He [Engelbert] didn’t hesitate in the fact that, ‘I don’t want to go in by myself,’” Alexandrow said, watching the body cam video.

The video then shows the officers in “search mode,” because they were trying to find out where the shooter was. You can see officers quickly bust through every door, trying to find the shooter.

“Search mode is they don’t know where the shooter is. And in that case, you cannot pass an unlocked or opened door,” Alexandrow said. “The five absolutes of room clearing are get through the door, clear the danger corner, run the walls, clear the center, and we got to communicate, and they’re doing all of that together.”

Meanwhile, at least one officer is supposed to stay behind in the hallway, to make sure they are not ambushed from behind.

In the video, as the officers continue to search every room, they suddenly hear gunshots ring out from the second floor and immediately run toward the gunfire.

“You go immediately to the threat,” Alexandrow said.

Body camera video then shows Engelbert and Collazo fatally shoot Hale. As she lies on the ground, the officers run toward her body and remove her weapons.

That’s where the released body camera footage ends. Alexandrow said next, officers likely did a second sweep of the school to make sure there was not a second shooter, while paramedics came in to tend to the victims.

Police said writings recovered from Hale, who was a former student of the school, revealed that the attack was calculated and planned. A search warrant executed at Hale’s home resulted in the seizure of a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun, maps and other evidence.

Three 9-year-old students and three adults were killed in the attack.

Senator Roland Gutierrez of Texas criticized the Uvalde police response in wake of the Nashville shooting. In a tweet, he wrote, “Nashville PD neutralized the killer in 14 minutes. Then in less than 24 hrs later they release body cam footage.”

Meanwhile, he said, the Texas Department of Public Safety “let the #Uvalde killer wreak havoc for 77 minutes and made legislators sign NDAs to view footage. 10 months later they have YET to be transparent about what happened on May 24. We have to hold DPS accountable for its failures!”

In another tweet, Gutierrez said Nashville police “has nothing to hide because they did their job. They weren’t afraid.”