Nashville Shooting Officer Breaks Silence, Reveals He Wasn't Even Supposed to Be at the Scene
Sometimes divine intervention is the only explanation for a set of circumstances.
That’s how Officer Rex Engelbert described the sequence of events that led to him being able to help take down an active shooter at The Covenant School in Nashville last week.
Englebert, Detective Michael Collazo and Sgt. Jeff Mathis were among the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department officers who spoke with news media for the first time Tuesday about that nightmarish experience.
The three officers described how they raced to the school when the 911 calls came flooding in March 27, WSMV reported.
They were among the first to arrive, and they immediately ran inside and followed the sound of gunfire through the hallways.
They fired the shots that brought down the shooter, who was later identified as 28-year-old Audrey Hale.
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. They fired on the active shooter, who was killed. This is their body camera footage. https://t.co/17qsZM6bNp pic.twitter.com/g4b0nMTFRD
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) March 28, 2023
Engelbert said he wasn’t even supposed to be in the midtown Nashville sector that day. He had been on his way to the Metro Police Academy to complete some administrative tasks.
“I really had no business being where I was,” Engelbert said.
“You can call it fate or God or whatever you want.
“I can’t count on both my hands the irregularities that put me in that position when the call for service came out for an active deadly aggression at the school.”
Engelbert said he didn’t know the layout of the school, but “luckily, due to the bravery of two staff members — they stayed on scene, they didn’t run, and they gave me concise, clear information for me to use to help anyone in danger.”
One man, he said, gave him “the exact key I needed to enter the building.”
He and the other officers made their way inside and quickly set out to find the shooter by listening for the sound of gunfire.
Engelbert was fully aware of the danger. “I definitely wished I had also deployed my rifle-calibrated heavy plates [body armor] when I found myself at the front of the stack,” he said.
But still, he and the others moved forward. “When I did hear stimulus [gunshots], I couldn’t get to it fast enough,” he said.
Those who know Engelbert were not surprised by his heroic actions.
His older brother, Kevin Engelbert, told the Chicago Tribune that Rex Engelbert “has always been a ‘gentle giant’ and compassionate toward neighbors and friends.”
“His bravery was shown in his actions,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Back in Engelbert’s hometown of Chicago, Emily Carlson, his former school principal at Queen of All Saints’ School called him a “police hero” in a statement the next day, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“We are proud of Officer Engelbert’s response to the tragedy in Nashville,” Carlson said.
“His career as a police officer and his response to yesterday’s horrific events exemplify Queen of All Saints school creed, which encourages students to act with charity, putting others above themselves.”
We know from sad past experience that The Covenant School shooting could have resulted in far more fatalities if it hadn’t been for the bold, unhesitating response of the members of the Metro Nashville Police Department who put their lives on the line to defend others.
With God’s help, these heroes were able to neutralize the threat and save many lives.
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