Franklin Graham, the son of Reverend Billy Graham, greets guests as the body of Reverend Billy Graham lies in repose after a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, on Feb. 28, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Erin Schaff – Pool / Getty Images)
Rev. Franklin Graham issued a powerful statement about faith on Tuesday, a day after a woman entered a private Christian school in Tennessee and killed three small children and three adults.
Police said 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who identified as a man, approached The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday morning and shot her way into the building.
Throughout the next few minutes, Hale would go on to kill three 9-year-old students, the school’s principal, and a school custodian.
In a post on his Facebook page, Graham made note of the evil that motivates such killers.
“We’re surrounded by evil in this world — and that’s what we saw walk into that Nashville elementary school yesterday — evil,” Graham wrote.
He added, “The evil certainly wasn’t in the weapon, but it was in the heart and mind of the one who came to kill and destroy.”
The reverend also paid tribute to the men and women of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
Officers who were dispatched to the scene worked quickly to find Hale and they wasted no time in neutralizing her as a threat. Fourteen minutes after a 911 call was placed, she was dead.
Body camera video from the encounter shared by the MNPD showed one officer made it from the driver’s seat of his car to firing on Hale in less than six minutes.
“I want to praise the law enforcement officers and first responders who rushed to The Covenant School at 10:13 Monday morning, not knowing what they would encounter,” Graham stated.
He concluded the officers showed no hesitation and noted they “ran into the fire, risking their own lives to save lives.”
“We applaud them for their bravery, and I thank God for each one of them,” he stated.
The president of Samaritan’s Purse further reminded those who are in mourning that they cannot grieve as though there is no “hope.”
“We mourn along with those who have lost their loved ones in this horrible tragedy, but the Bible tells us that we do not grieve as those without hope — because our resurrected Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, has defeated death, sin, and Satan through the Cross,” Graham said.
He concluded, the post by citing 1 Peter 1:3-5:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Students Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus and William Kinney, who were all 9, died in the massacre. Mike Hill, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60 and Cynthia Peak, 61, also lost their lives.
Police have said Hale left behind a “manifesto” that outlined her plans. She also messaged a friend on social media before the killings and said she intended to die, WTVF-TV reported.
“One day this will make more sense,” Hale wrote to a former classmate. “I’ve left behind more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen.”
The suspect identified as a man named Aiden and chose the school over a number of other potential targets because of what she perceived as its lack of security.
Numerous media outlets have walked back reporting that apparently “misgendered” Hale, whose own mother described her as a “daughter” and not a son.
Hale was previously a student at The Covenant School.