Nashville police officer who helped take down school shooter grew up in Chicago

Officer Rex Engelbert, a Jefferson Park native, is being hailed for displaying "courage in the face of evil."

ByChuck Goudie, Liz Nagy, and Christine Tressel, Barb Markoff and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Chicago-born police officer helped take down Nashville school shooter
Officer Rex Engelbert, who grew up in Chicago, was one of the lead officers who took down the Nashville school shooter, Audrey Hale.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- One of the lead Nashville officers who took down the school shooter is from Chicago, the ABC7 I-Team has learned.

Nashville Officer Rex Engelbert, who grew up in Chicago's Jefferson Park neighborhood, is being hailed by one police organization as displaying "courage in the face of evil."

Officer Engelbert attended Queen of All Saints School in Sauganash. The Archdiocese of Chicago shared this statement from the school: Nashville police hero, Rex Engelbert, is a 2010 graduate of Queen of All Saints on the northwest side of Chicago. We are proud of Officer Engelbert's response to the tragedy in Nashville. 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. Queen of All Saints teachers, Stacia Kuchuris and Sherry Penkala, remember Rex as a kind, respectful student from a faithful, community focused family. The entire Queen of All Saints community is praying for all of the families impacted by this tragedy and sending strength to all of the first responders.

RELATED | Body camera video released from police who took down Nashville school shooter

Nashville police have released dramatic body camera footage from two officers who fired at the shooter who killed three children and three adults at a school.

The graduate of suburban Loyola Academy and University of Dayton was on the team of five Nashville officers that arrived at Covenant School Monday morning to handle an active shooter.

"You appreciate that there are people in the world who are willing to put their life on the line and make sure other people, especially 9-year-old children, stop the carnage," said Coach Tim Feldheim, who coached Engelbert at Loyola Academy. "Just incredible. Really, really proud."

Engelbert grew up on the Northwest Side of Chicago with his four siblings, three brothers and a sister.

"As an older brother, I'm as proud of him as I can be and as happy that he's okay," Kevin Engelbert, the officer's brother, told the I-Team.

He said Engelbert, 27, has been a Nashville police officer for only four years.

"The selfish part of me, of course, thinks 'I hope my brother's not there,'" Engelbert said. "The practical part of me thinks and has confidence in that, if my brother was there.... his training and his fortitude would be forthcoming."

RELATED | What we know about Nashville shooter Audrey Hale

The suspect, identified by police as Audrey Hale, 28, had a detailed map of Covenant School and allegedly shot through the door to gain entry to the school, police said.

Engelbert said he had viewed his brother's bodycam video released by Nashville police, calling it "harrowing" and "tragic."

"Also, it made me very proud of my brother," he said. "It's tragic for everyone involved."

His brother was one of two officers who opened fire on the shooter, bringing the attack to an end. But he was reluctant to label him as a "hero."

"So first and foremost, we're just happy he's okay," Engelbert said. "And it's a tragedy and we pray for everyone involved."

Engelbert added that the police call must have been particularly concerning for his little brother, as Rex Engelbert's fiancée is a teacher at a different Christian school in Nashville.