Ashbey Beasley was in Nashville on Monday when a shooter killed three adults and three students at an elementary school.
The attack struck a nerve, bringing back bitter memories of the Highland Park massacre last year, where seven people were killed when a gunman armed with an assault rifle fired from a rooftop at a crowd of people attending a July 4th parade. Beasley and her son were nearby.
On Monday, Nashville police had just finished speaking to reporters at a press conference about the shooting at The Covenant School when Beasley spoke up.
“Aren’t you guys tired of covering this?” she asked. “Aren’t you guys tired of being here and having to cover all these mass shootings?”
Speaking to reporters, Beasley, 47, said she was in Nashville visiting her sister-in-law on a family vacation with her son.
Local authorities identified the victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all 9 years old, and adults Cynthia Peak, 61; Katherine Koonce, 60; and Mike Hill, 61, according to the Associated Press.
The shooter is also dead after being “engaged” by police, Nashville police said via Twitter.
Beasley said she wasn’t involved in gun safety activism before the Highland Park shooting, but was spurred into action after seeing how her 7-year-old son struggled to cope with the tragedy.
She said speaking out on the issue has helped them work through the trauma of the event.
“This is definitely my therapy. I’ve been to D.C. 12 times and met with over 130 lawmakers and their teams,” Beasley said. “I think that this is a way for me to be able to take back control of the situation, and I’m not just sitting idle. That has really helped me.”
Beasley had attended the Generation Lockdown rally in Washington over the weekend with her son to demand Congress pass the federal assault weapons ban legislation. They stopped in Nashville to visit her sister-in-law, and Beasley took the opportunity to have lunch with her friend Shaundelle Brooks, whose son was killed in a mass shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville in 2018.
They were about to meet for lunch when Brooks told Beasley that her other son’s school was on lockdown because of a mass shooting down the street at the Covenant School. Beasley rushed to the area to make sure Brooks and her son were OK, then she made her way to the scene of the shooting to see if there was anything she could do to help, having experienced a mass shooting herself.
Beasley said all of the trauma and stress that she had experienced since the Highland Park shooting came to a head at that moment outside the Covenant School, and she couldn’t stay silent.
“I just decided standing there that I felt like I needed to say these things out loud,” Beasley said. “We just have to do something, it’s just insane.”
Her impromptu speech was aired on national and local news, and she shared details of the shooting on Twitter.
I’m in Nashville on a family vacation and there was a mass shooting at a school. was meeting a friend whose son’s school went on lockdown. I just passed the reunification center for #covenantschooltn and saw parents running in the street.— Ashbey Beasley (@CampBeasleywood) March 27, 2023
The Covenant School, a private Christian school, teaches students from preschool through sixth grade. Students could be seen holding each other and walking in a single-file line away from the school, waiting to be reunited with their parents following the attack.
At least 129 mass shootings have been reported in the United States so far in 2023, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as an incident where at least four people are injured or killed by guns, not including the shooter.
Beasley said that she will continue to talk to legislators on both sides of the aisle until they act to address the shootings. She’s going to be back to Washington to meet with lawmakers next month.
“This is gonna keep happening until we pass gun safety legislation. It’s going to keep happening. We need to pass safe gun storage laws, we need to pass universal background checks, we need to ban assault weapons, we need to ban high-capacity magazines,” Beasley said. “Our lawmakers need to step up and make it happen, they need to start working really hard.”