Nashville judge to weigh release of Tennessee school shooter's writings
A Nashville judge heard arguments Monday on the potential release of the writings of The Covenant School shooter in preparation for a public hearing on the matter next month.
The status hearing saw attorneys representing the parents, church and school, the city of Nashville and attorneys for The Covenant School, Covenant Church and Covenant parents amid a slew of lawsuits arguing both for and against the release of the writing that could shed light on a potential motive.
A judge will rule Wednesday to allow the parents to be heard during the upcoming June 8 hearing on the writings, Fox 17 reported.
Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a 28-year-old transgender activist and former student, used two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun to kill three 9-year-olds and three adults inside the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 27, according to authorities. Hale was shot and killed by responding officers within minutes of their arrival at the campus.
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Just hours after the bloodshed, investigators also executed search warrants on Hale's family home on Brightwood Avenue, where officers found two shotguns and a suicide note was found on a desk. Five Covenant School yearbooks were seized from the home, as well as a psych medical folder.
Authorities have said collective writings found in Hale’s vehicle left in the school parking lot, and others found at the home, support that Hale documented planning The Covenant School shooting over a period of months and also considered "the actions of other mass murderers."
Some say the writings will help victims and authorities understand Hale's motive and thinking at the time fo the shooting.
A group of Tennessee parents whose children attend The Covenant School, filed a motion last Wednesday seeking to keep the shooter's writings from being released to the public. "The Parents see no good that can come from the release and wish to contend that the writings — which they believe are the dangerous and harmful writings of a mentally-damaged person – should not be released at all," their filling reads.
The motion came just days after more than 60 Tennessee House Republicans called for the writings to be released.
In a letter to Nashville Police Chief John Drake, House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison said the timely release of the records is "critical to understanding the shooter's behavior and motives" before lawmakers convene for a special session where they are expected to consider a proposal to remove firearms from people judged dangerous to themselves or others.
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In addition, three conservative groups had previously filed lawsuits seeking to force Nashville police to turn over the records.
The Covenant parents are seeking to intervene in those cases, which were filed by The Tennessee Firearms Association, Star News Digital Media and the National Police Association, a nonprofit that says it works to educate people about how to help police departments.
The groups sued after Nashville police denied their public records requests. Police claimed the writings were protected from release as long as they were part of an open investigation, but they indicated that they would release them at some point.
In late April, police said they were reviewing the writings for public release, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee tweeted that the release was coming "very soon." A week later, police reversed course, saying that because of the lawsuits they would await the direction of the court.
In addition to the Covenant parents, The Covenant School is asking to intervene as well as the church that runs it, Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Hale fired 152 rounds during the attack before being killed by police. Hale was under a doctor’s care for an undisclosed "emotional disorder," police said. However, authorities haven’t disclosed a link between that care and the shooting. The three children who were killed in the shooting were Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. The three adults were Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school, custodian Mike Hill, 61, and 61-year-old substitute teacher Cynthia Peak.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.