Friend says she contacted authorities after messaging with Nashville shooter Audrey Hale on morning of attack

Paige Patton says Hale messaged her online about "planning to die today."

March 28, 2023, 3:30 PM

A friend of Nashville school shooter Audrey Hale told ABC News that she contacted local authorities on Monday morning after Hale messaged her online about "planning to die today." But it was only minutes before the shooting started, and the authorities didn't come to speak to the friend until after the attack had taken place.

Hale, 28, shot and killed three children and three adults in a mass shooting at the Covenant School Monday before being killed by responding police officers, according to authorities. Police said Hale may have previously attended the school.

Paige Patton, a Nashville radio host who goes by the name Averianna, told ABC News that said she played basketball with Hale in eighth grade and remained in occasional contact with Hale.

She said was contacted Monday at 9:57 a.m. by Hale, who told her, "I'm planning to die today. This is not a joke. You will probably hear about me on the news after I die."

The shooting began 13 minutes later.

"This is my last goodbye," Hale wrote in her message, according to Patton. "I love you, see you again in another life."

Patton said she messaged Hale back, saying, "Audrey, you have so much more life to live.'"

"I know, but I don't want to live, I'm so sorry. I'm not trying to upset you or get attention, I just need to die. I wanted to tell you first because you are the most beautiful person I've ever seen and known all my life," Hale responded, according to Patton.

Police identified 28-year-old Audrey Hale as the suspect in the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn., Mar. 27, 2023.
Obtained by ABC News

Patton said she sent her father a screenshot of Hale's messages and asked him if she should call somebody. Her father said yes and recommended that she call the suicide prevention line, Patton told ABC News.

She spoke to someone at the suicide prevention line who suggested she call local authorities, according to Patton. When she did, they said they would send someone out to her location to review the screenshots, Patton said.

But Patton said no one came to see the messages themselves until that afternoon, after the shooting had taken place.

"The call stamp was 3:29 when someone finally had come to see the screenshots and see if they could, like, ping that Instagram [account] or whatnot," Patton told ABC News.

Patton said that Hale and her were "more so acquaintances" than friends, but Hale would come to various events that Patton hosted around Nashville, and that Hale, a graphic designer, would post drawings of Patton on social media.

Patton said she had heard over the years that Hale was suicidal, even as she described Hale as "happy" and "feisty" on the basketball court.

She said she doesn't know why Hale was struggling, and wasn't aware of any issues regarding Hale's gender identity. A police spokesperson told ABC News that Hale, who was assigned female at birth, had a social media account that included the use of the pronouns he/him.

"I knew she liked girls, but I didn't know anything about the preference of the he/she or switching over or transgender ... I only know her as Audrey," Patton told ABC News.

On her efforts to alert authorities, Patton said, "I just wanted to get help -- I didn't really know the severity of it. Just something in me told me, like, 'You need to make these phone calls. You need to do what needs to be done.' And I did the best I could."

Patton said that when she first heard Audrey was the shooter, "I literally was like, 'I cannot believe this. I cannot believe this.' And so I called my dad, and I was like, 'Daddy, that was her.'"

"My heart is just ... it's just ... I'm speechless," Patton said of the attack. "It's just so much to feel ... the kids, and then the families, it's a lot to try to wrap your head around. And to know that we don't know what or why -- it's just crazy. It's crazy."

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, free, confidential help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call or text the national lifeline at 988.