Fact Check

No, the Nashville Covenant School Shooting Wasn't a 'False Flag'

Claims about "false flags" often spread after school shootings.

Published March 28, 2023

 (Brendan Smialowski/Contributor, Getty Images)
Image Via Brendan Smialowski/Contributor, Getty Images
Claim:
The Nashville Covenant School shooting on March 27, 2023, was a “false flag.”

On March 27, 2023, claims began to spread on social media that the Nashville Covenant School shooting was a "false flag." Those claims are false. 

"False flag" conspiracy theories portray tragedies as orchestrated events aimed at advancing a political agenda. These false claims often spread in the aftermath of mass shootings, including the Sandy Hook and Uvalde school shootings. Typically, they characterize the victims of such crimes as hired "crisis actors" or unwitting pawns in an insidious plot to deceive the public.

The Nashville Covenant School shooting, which left three students and three adults at the school dead, was no different. There have been several posts on social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit asserting that the shooting was a false flag.

One variant claims that the shooting clearly must have been a false flag because a woman who had previously survived the Highland Park mass shooting in July 2022 "interrupted" a news conference during an update about the situation. 

"Tell me you're pulling out all the stops with your false flag narrative without telling me you're pulling out all the stops," a Twitter user posted.

Another tweet accused the woman of being a "crisis actor" — someone who pretends to be a victim of a tragedy in order to manipulate public opinion about the event.

There's no evidence the woman, Ashbey Beasley, is a crisis actor. She said she was on a family vacation and meeting a friend whose son's school then went into lockdown. 

After a news conference with Metropolitan Nashville Police, news publications like USA Today and The Washington Post reported that she turned to reporters and asked, "Aren't you guys tired of covering this?" The moment was caught on video and aired by news organizations like Fox News, from which the video that has circulated most frequently online originated.

We reached out to Beasley about the "crisis actor" accusation, and will update this fact check if we hear back.

Another post asserted that U.S. President Joe Biden was in on the alleged false flag. "Biden already knows what kind of gun it was & how she had," a Twitter user posted. "It just happened he knows everything already. False flag palooza." Attached to the tweet was a photograph that says Biden said (erroneously) that the shooter used two AK-47s, but that police hadn't released the make and model of the guns that were used at that point.

When addressing the shooting on March 27, Biden said, "You know, the shooter in this situation reportedly had two assault weapons and a pistol — two AK-47." Biden didn't claim he knew how the shooter had obtained the guns. 

The Metropolitan Nashville Police on March 27 released photographs of the guns the shooter used. At the time of this publication, the guns were identified in news reports as an AR-15, a Kel-Tec SUB 2000, and a handgun. 

There is no evidence that Biden knew about the shooting beforehand. At the time of the shooting, he was in Washington, D.C., speaking at the Small Business Administration Women's Business Summit. It should not surprise anyone that the president would receive some details about such an incident before they have been widely disseminated. 

We've fact-checked other rumors about the Nashville Covenant School shooting, including false claims that someone named "Samantha Hyde" was the Nashville shooter.

Sources

Emery, David. "No, 'Samantha Hyde' Is Not the Name of the Nashville School Shooter." Snopes, 27 Mar. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/samantha-hyde-tennessee-school-shooter/.

"https://twitter.com/MNPDNashville/status/1640521034594918400." Twitter, https://twitter.com/MNPDNashville/status/1640521034594918400. Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Mendoza, Jordan. "'Aren't You Guys Tired of This?': Woman Who Survived Highland Park Shooting Makes Plea in Nashville." USA TODAY, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2023/03/27/covenant-shooting-ashbey-beasley-highland-park-survivor/11550772002/. Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Patten, Dominic. "Fox News' John Roberts Laments 'School Shootings Week In & Week Out' After Nashville Rampage; Cable Newser Airs Passionate Gun Reform Remarks From Highland Park Survivor." Deadline, 27 Mar. 2023, https://deadline.com/2023/03/nashville-shooting-fox-news-john-roberts-live-gun-reform-1235311065/.

Romero, Dennis. "Six Killed, Including Three Children, in Tennessee School Shooting." NBC News, 28 Mar. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/live-blog/nashville-school-shooting-covenant-live-updates-rcna76861.

SBA Women's Business Summit | U.S. Small Business Administration. 28 Mar. 2023, https://www.sba.gov/event/12167.

Shammas, Brittany. "Survivor of Highland Park Gunfire Crashes Nashville Shooting News Conference." Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2023. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/03/27/shooting-survivor-nashville-press-conference/.

The White House. "Remarks by President Biden at the SBA Women's Business Summit." The White House, 27 Mar. 2023, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2023/03/27/remarks-by-president-biden-at-the-sba-womens-business-summit/.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.