Nashville Christian school shooting victim Evelyn Dieckhaus may have been leading her classmates to safety after the killer activated a fire alarm when she broke into the building.
Evelyn’s aunt Kelly Dorrance told The Daily Beast she heard the 9-year-old girl was heading the line of children in what she may have believed was a fire drill.
“We’re finding out the shooter may have pulled the fire alarm to get kids out of their classroom. Evelyn being one of the class leaders was at the front of the line assuming fire drill,” a private Instagram post the aunt provided to the outlet stated.
“She was trying to lead her classmates to safety and possibly didn’t hear the shouts to come back in the room. Things children should never worry about,” the post read.
Evelyn and two other 9-year-olds — Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney — were killed along with school janitor Mike Hill, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak and headmistress Katherine Koonce during in the 14-minute attack by Audrey Hale, 28, at The Covenant School.
The shooter — armed with two assault rifles and a handgun — was gunned down by police.
On Thursday, police told The Daily Beast the investigation indicates “the alarm originated from the area of the shooter’s entry” at The Covenant School on Monday morning.
“The investigation at present does not support a ‘pulling’ of the alarm,” police spokesman Don Aaron told the outlet.
Police declined to comment on whether Evelyn was killed while leading her classmates in a supposed fire drill.
Dorrance described her late niece as “radiant — a beacon of joy in our family. She had a calm confidence and a natural sense of purpose — alongside a whip smart sense of humor and a sly little smile.”
She said the girl’s death is a “nightmare you can’t wake up from,” but told the outlet ”the support and love our family has received has proved that humanity is, ultimately, good.”
On Instagram, Dorrance wrote: “How our country puts assault rifles in the hands of civilians, I’ll never understand. We are in disbelief. Devastated. Heartbroken. Sick.”
She said the family wants to make sure Evelyn’s memory will live on.
“After we get through this initial phase of grief, we’re committed to make her memory an important one that will save the lives of other children,” she told The Daily Beast.
Evelyn’s sister, Eleanor, survived the rampage.