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Honoring Heroes: 1 year ago, these officers confronted The Covenant School shooter

{p}Left: Officer Rex Engelbert; Right: Det. Michael Collazo. (Photos: Metro Nashville Police Department){/p}

Left: Officer Rex Engelbert; Right: Det. Michael Collazo. (Photos: Metro Nashville Police Department)

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As we remember six victims killed in the mass shooting at The Covenant School one year ago, FOX 17 News is honoring the Metro Police officers who acted quickly and stopped the shooter from taking more lives.

Officer Rex Englebert and Officer Michael Collazo stormed the building with their teams of first responders, as the suspect fired down from a second-floor window of the school. In less than three minutes and with help from Sergeant Jeff Mathes, Detective Zachary Pleas, and Detective Ryan Cagle, they tracked the sound of gunfire.

“I went through that door with purpose,” Sgt. Mathes previously said.

The officers acted quickly, some didn’t even bother dressing in ballistic gear. Det. Collazo recalled making his way up a flight of stairs and finding a locked door – which is seen on the body camera video released by Metro Police. Collazo would later come to appreciate the locked door: it meant school employees had done what they were trained to do in an active situation.

ALSO READ | Inside Covenant: Officers give harrowing firsthand accounts of running to gunfire

Moments later, the officers confronted the shooter by a window on the second floor and took down Audrey Hale within 14 minutes of the first call.

Police confirmed Hale shot a total of 152 rounds from the time she shot her way into the school until the time she was killed. Officer Engelbert discharged a total of four 5.56 rounds from his rifle. Collazo discharged a total of four rounds from a nine millimeter pistol.

Since that day, the officers have received numerous accolades for their heroism and bravery.

All five received the National Award of Valor from the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) in May 2023. The award is presented to those who embody acts of courage and valor above and beyond what would normally be expected.

BODYCAM VIDEO | Moment Nashville Police encounter elementary school mass shooter

The officers have also been recognized in many other realms: they were made honorary professors at MTSU, received Patriot Awards, and have been honored at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake has voiced his pride in those first responders. He’s also thanked the teachers at The Covenant School, saying their efforts no doubt saved lives.

“I’ve renewed my faith,” Chief Drake said last year. “I sat in a church [for one of the funerals] and watch students take flowers down to the altar. I’m in tears – we’re all in tears—I look at these kids and they look at us and say, ‘Thank you for your service.’ They believe their classmates are in heaven.”

FOX 17 News will have continuing coverage Wednesday as we honor and remember those involved in the mass tragedy. Watch here.

Get reports like this and all the news of the day in Middle Tennessee delivered to your inbox each morning with the FOX 17 News Daily Newsletter.

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