Covenant student William Kinney was 'unfailingly kind' and 'knew no strangers'

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William Kinney was a beloved son, brother, nephew and friend looking forward to starting baseball season this spring. He was set to play infield and outfield for the Crieve Hall Reds.

Kinney had an easy grin, dimples, long eyelashes, and went by Will.

Known to friends as a kind boy with an "unflappable spirit," Kinney was one of three 9-year-old Nashville victims and three adult staff members who were killed at The Covenant School on Monday morning.


Crowds of Tennesseans have gathered since the shooting to mourn the tragedy — at memorial vigils and protests against violence.

A photograph of William Kinney at the makeshift  memorial by the entrance to the Covenant School Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.
A photograph of William Kinney at the makeshift memorial by the entrance to the Covenant School Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn.

Kinney was memorialized in an online GoFundMe page written by family friend Rachael Freitas. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

"Will had an unflappable spirit," Freitas wrote. "He was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others. He loved his sisters, adored his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and was always excited to host friends of every age.

"Sweet Will knew no strangers, and our hearts are broken for his family as they try to find their way forward."

Freitas pleaded for privacy in the aftermath of the shooting.

"We are asking for 100% privacy for the family and friends right now," Freitas wrote. "Please consider giving to this very, very special family. And please remember them in your prayers."

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More than $200,000 was donated by Thursday from family friends, colleagues and members of the larger Presbyterian community. Kinney's school is part of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Green Hills.

On Monday morning, as the city woke up from a sunny spring weekend, this devastating attack was the furthest thing from the thoughts of those at The Covenant School.

Kinney and his schoolmates were enjoying a fun presentation from Britney Grayson, a doctor at AIC Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. She taught them about Christian missionary work and how to pronounce words in Swahili.

Read more: Timeline of Nashville shooting: What happened at Covenant School (

Grayson wrote on social media sites that she lamented leaving the school just minutes before the attack because she could have rendered aid to the victims, had she been there.

“The kids were great," Grayson wrote. "There are no words for this feeling."

Kinney, Evelyn Dieckhaus and Hallie Scruggs were the students murdered in the attack. Three adult staff members were also killed: Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school; substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61; and Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian.

On Wednesday, Kinney was honored by fellow teammates who decorated the fence around Crieve Hall Baseball Park in South Nashville with red ribbons, bows and Kinney's jersey.

Lipscomb Academy players donned red ribbons on the shoelaces of their baseball cleats in memory of The Covenant School victims. The team will wear those ribbons all season.

"It's all a family," said Lipscomb Academy varsity baseball player Hunter High, who started in the Crieve Hall Baseball League. "My dad played youth baseball there. His two brothers played there. I played there. My older brother played there. The kids that come out of that league are good kids. They have good families. That's what makes this so difficult. It's as if you lost a family member."

Kinney's baseball and softball league, Crieve Hall Baseball, consists of players ages 4-16 and has been the starting point for much of the Nashville area's baseball talent for nearly 60 years.

Lipscomb Academy senior Ryan Chaffin said Kinney reminds him of himself.

"It really hit home for me because I grew up a lot like (William) grew up," Chaffin said. "I grew up not too far from Covenant School and for someone to lose their life just as they were starting their life. It's just heartbreaking."

On Thursday, Major League Baseball's season-opening day, the Cincinnati Reds will have a moment of silence in the seventh inning of its game against Pittsburgh Pirates to honor the victims of the Covenant School shooting.

Sandy Mazza can be reached via email at, by calling 615-726-5962, or on Twitter @SandyMazza.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville shooting victim Will Kinney was 'kind, knew no strangers'