MNPD Officers Rex Engelbert, a 4-year veteran, and Michael Collazo, a 9-year veteran, were part of a team of first responders to the Covenant campus Mon morning. Metro Nashville PD

Police officers Rex Engelbert and Michael Collazo, who stopped the transgender shooting suspect accused of killing six people at The Covenant School in Nashville last week, spoke out about the incident at a press conference on Tuesday. Both officers described their personal accounts of rushing into the building, passing victims, and ultimately neutralizing the threat.

According to the police, Audrey Hale had already killed three 9-year-old children and three adults when Engelbert and Collazo arrived on the scene. Engelbert, a four-year veteran of the force, and Collazo, a nine-year veteran who previously served in the Marine Corps, opened fire on Hale, effectively stopping the shooter.

During the press conference, Engelbert recounted how he came to be at the school that day.

“I really had no business being where I was. I think you can call it fate or God or whatever you want, but I can’t count on both my hands the irregularities that put me in that position when a call for service came out for an active deadly aggression at a school. I immediately turned on my lights and sirens knowing the severity of such a call,” Engelbert said. “I’ve been to I don’t know how many false active deadly aggression calls. Something told me it was time to really get to this one. I treat them all the same, but I was driving as safely I could get my body there.”

Both officers spoke about the difficulty of seeing the victims and the emotional toll the incident took on them. Engelbert expressed his gratitude for his partner, who he said kept him calm and focused during the chaotic scene.

Englebert stated, “We cleared the hallway we had, room by room, until we made it into the lobby.”

“When I did hear stimulus, I couldn’t get to it fast enough. I just looked for the nearest staircase I could find because I could tell it was above my head. Eventually, following the guidance of other officers, I luckily deployed my rifle, kept walking toward the sound of gunfire. There was, like sergeant said, some smoke in the air. It was very similar to the training we had received.”

The officers’ bravery and quick thinking saved countless lives that day. Without their intervention, the death toll could have been much higher. Their actions serve as a reminder of the importance of well-trained and competent law enforcement personnel.

In the wake of the shooting, Nashville Mayor John Cooper released a statement praising the officers for their bravery and expressing his condolences to the victims’ families. He also called for the city to come together in the face of tragedy and work to prevent such incidents from happening again.

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