NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The headmaster tragically killed during The Covenant School mass shooting is being hailed as a hero for trying to stop the shooter to protect her students and faculty.
Those close to Dr. Katherine Koonce said she tried to stop the attack, and now, officials have confirmed that.
“She didn’t hesitate, she died as she lived, and like I said, she was selfless,” said Monica Lee, a close friend of Koonce.
Those who knew Koonce described her as selfless, courageous and full of grace, especially during her last moments.
“She was not returning my texts when I heard about the shooting, and I just knew that something had gone seriously wrong and I knew she had confronted the danger, because that’s just the kind of person she is,” said Jim Lee, a close friend and former co-worker of Koonce. “She would not be locked down. You’re supposed to find a hiding place and be quiet and all that, but I guarantee when it was time to spring into action, she did because she wanted to protect those kids and her teachers. That was her job and she knew it. I’m sure she did not hesitate for a second.”
“I just imagine that that is what she did because of her personality and because of how smart, intelligent and brave she was,” Monica added.
Jim explained what Koonce was doing the moment that shots were fired: “She was in a Zoom meeting with a councilman and she heard the gunfire, quickly ended the Zoom, and whoever was on the other end, saw her through the Zoom and run to the danger.”
During a Metro Police press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Chief John Drake was asked if the head of the school ran toward the shooter.
“It’s very possible the head of the school could have done that. I can’t confirm that way one or the other,” Drake responded. “I do know she was in the hallway by herself. There was a confrontation, I’m sure. You can tell by the way she was laying in the hallway.”
“If she, with her words, could address the situation and perhaps persuade a shooter to put the weapons down, she was going to try, and it looks like she gave her life doing so,” Jim said.
In a statement, Koonce’s family said:
“Katherine was devoted to her family, her friends, and especially the children she cared for. She gave her life to protect the students she loved. We are devastated by our loss but depending on our God for comfort and healing. It is our privilege to honor Katherine’s legacy and to celebrate her remarkable spirit. We are grateful for the prayers of many on our behalf, and we pray for the families of the six others who died.”
Jim and Monica Lee flew in from Atlanta on Tuesday just to stop by the memorial, bring flowers and pay their respects to their dear friend and the five other victims.
The Lees were overcome with emotions while looking down at the memorial dedicated to the victims, as they remembered Koonce as a hilarious individual, a powerhouse, a hero and their own personal Wonder Woman.