The Nashville school shooter's mental state appeared to deteriorate after the death of a friend, a former classmate of the shooter tells NBC News. The 28-year-old shooter was shattered after the August death of Sydney Shere Sims in a car accident, according to ex-classmate Samira Hardcastle. The shooter and Sims both attended Isaiah T. Creswell Middle School of the Arts and the Nashville School of the Arts, and Hardcastle says the shooter "definitely admired Sydney." The Independent paints Sims as a "romantic partner" of the shooter's, though it's not clear whether that information was confirmed.
One of the shooter's teachers at Nashville's Nossi College of Art & Design recalls that her student mourned Sims in social media posts after the car crash. "A lot of comments about 'you were all that mattered' [and] 'I’ll miss you forever,' etc.," the teacher says, adding that it was at that time the shooter, who was assigned female at birth, announced they would be using male pronouns and going by a different name. No motive for the mass shooting at The Covenant School, which left three children and three adult staffers dead, has yet been revealed, but police say the shooter was being treated by doctors for an "emotional disorder" at some point. Another high school classmate of the shooter remembers the shooter as "so loving to everyone," and notes, "everyone was kind to her, because they knew she might have been on the spectrum, and she was so kind." (Read more Nashville school shooting stories.)