The gunsmoke had barely dispersed from the horrific March 27 shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, when multiple groups began arguing over whether mass murderer Audrey Hale’s manifesto should be released.
Last week, it looked as if the documents soon might see the light of day, as an unredacted copy was delivered to a judge for review, along with proposed redactions, WZTV-TV in Nashville reported.
But on Monday, The Covenant School’s legal team filed a motion to halt that action, maintaining that releasing the manifesto could “impair or impede its ability to protect its interests and the privacy of its employees and students,” WZTV reported.
That motion was granted, Newsweek reported, “allowing the judge to hear arguments on whether the full, unredacted document should be made public.” That hearing will be held Thursday.
Six people — including three school staff and three children — were killed in the massacre before police breached the building and fatally shot Hale.
The young victims were 9-year-olds Hallie Scruggs, William Kinney and Evelyn Dieckhaus. The murdered adults were headmistress Dr. Katherine Koonce, 60, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, and custodian Mike Hill, 61.
Hale, 28, a former student at the school who police said identified as transgender, left behind a suicide note, map and journals that referred to other school shootings, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
The debate over releasing the writings has largely fallen along political lines, with Tennessee GOP lawmakers and police groups calling for their release, WZTV reported.
Should the manifesto be released to the public?
“In a letter to [Metro North Police Department] Chief John Drake, the House Majority Caucus along with Chairman Jeremy Faison and Speaker Cameron Sexton ask for the writings of shooter Audrey Hale to be released to ‘understand the behavior and motives of the Covenant School perpetrator,’” the outlet reported.
They also requested Hale’s medical records and toxicology reports.
The letter argued that the release of the information “is critical to the General Assembly’s ability to construct effective solutions that can prevent future acts of violence.”
— TN House Republicans (@tnhousegop) May 15, 2023
Democrat legislators, however, remained focused on seeking gun-control legislation in response to the shooting.
WZTV quoted House Democratic Chairman John Ray Clemmons as complaining, “Rather than reach across the aisle and work with me and my Democratic colleagues, each of whom is ready to return to the Capitol and get to work immediately on sensible gun safety legislation, the GOP is bizarrely focused on a diary.”
The station also quoted Democrat legislator Vincent Dixie as saying “Who cares why she did it? … It happened.”
Hale’s transgender identity also has prompted some advocates to argue against the dissemination of the shooter’s manifesto.
“LGBTQ groups have opposed the release on the grounds it could inspire ‘copycat’ incidents,” the Daily Mail reported.