Before school shooting in Nashville, shooter warned a friend, who tried to warn police — but was ignored

The Nashville elementary school shooter, Audrey Hale, sent warnings via Instagram to a friend about the impending tragedy — including "something bad is about to happen" — 16 minutes before the Covenant School made its first 911 call. And the friend, Averianna Patton, called police to relay the alarming messages, but officials then directed her to a nonemergency phone number. And the nonemergency responders got back to Patton hours after the massacre occurred, according to Daily Beast.

"I'm planning to die today," Hale, who had been starting to identify as Aiden (he/him), said in the first message. "THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!!!"

"You'll probably hear about me on the news after I die. This is my last goodbye. I love you. See you again in another life," Another message said shortly after.

Patton, who had been a basketball teammate with the shooter in middle school, told Hale there was "so much more life to live."

"I know but I don't want to live," Hale said. "I'm so sorry. I'm not trying to upset you or get attention. I just need to die."

And then in the last message, "My family doesn't know what I'm about to do. One day this will make more sense. I've left more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen."

From Daily Beast:

Hale signed off the message to Patton as "Audrey (Aiden)." Police initially described Hale as a teenager, then a 28-year-old woman, later adding that Hale was transgender. A source close to the Hale family told The Daily Beast that Hale had "relatively recently" started "identifying as he/him."

Hale went on tell Patton that she was being told first because she is "the most beautiful person I've ever seen and known all my life." …

Patton told WTVF that Hale had previously spoken to others about feeling suicidal so she knew to take the messages seriously. At her father's instruction, Patton said she contacted the Suicide Prevention Help Line at 10:08 a.m. before calling the Nashville Davidson County Sheriff's Office five minutes later. They in turn told her to call Nashville's non-emergency line, Patton said.

"I called Nashville's non-emergency line at 10:14 a.m. and was on hold for nearly seven minutes before speaking with someone who said that they would send an officer to my home," Patton said. "An officer did not come to my home until 3:29 p.m."

Patton said she shared Hale's messages because she thinks officials should have responded to her information with more urgency. "After phone calls from friends and Audrey's name was released as the shooter at Covenant Nashville school, I learned that Audrey was the shooter and that she had reached out to me prior to the shooting," Patton said. "My heart is with all of the families affected and I'm devastated by what has happened."

With only 16 minutes between Hale's first message and the first 911 call, perhaps the police would not have had time to connect the dots. But it's a shame they did not take the warnings more seriously when presented by Patton.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. Or text/dial 988.