(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Arguing no one has suffered more than them, the parents of three children killed and those traumatized by a mass shooting in March at Covenant School in Nashville are asking a court to prevent the killer’s writings from being released
The request was filed Wednesday in Davidson County Chancery Court in response to three separate lawsuits asking that the journals of the shooter, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, be made public to shed light on a possible motive for the massacre.
In their court filing, the parents asked a judge set a hearing in which they would be allowed to give victim impact statements on how the deadly rampage has affected their lives.
“No one was more traumatized or has suffered more, than the families of the victims and survivors of the Covenant School atrocity. No one,” the brief filed by the parents reads. “And no one can claim a remotely similar interest in whether the shooter’s writings be released.”
On March 27, Hale, a former student at the private Christian school, launched an attack on the campus, killing three 9-year-old students and three adults, police alleged. Hale used a legally purchased AR-15-style rifle and another gun in the rampage, firing 152 rounds in 14 minutes before being fatally shot by a police officer, officials said.
About a week after the shooting, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department released a statement saying journals and maps were found in Hale’s vehicle and home, revealing the attack was planned over a period of months and that “Hale considered the actions of other mass murderers.”
The collective writings were reviewed by Nashville detectives and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Virginia.
“The motive for Hale’s actions has not been established,” the police department said in an April 3 statement.
The brief filed with the court by the parents of the slain children said three-quarters of Covenant School parents support the motion to keep Hale’s writings under court seal.
“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,” the brief argues.
However, if the court decides to make a redacted version of Hale’s writings public, the parents asked that it be done after the end of the school year on June 8 “so that the children of Covenant School might finish the school year in peace.”
“The parents humbly and respectfully request that the court spare them and their children additional pain that would be caused by the release of these documents until after the school year concludes,” according to the parent’s court brief.
The parents added that they fear Hale’s writings could inspire “copycat attacks.”
A hearing on the issue was scheduled for Thursday but has now been postponed until Monday.
The parents’ request came just two days after more than 60 members of the Tennessee House Republican Caucus signed a letter they sent to Chief John Drake of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, asking him to release Hale’s writings. The lawmakers wrote that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has called upon the General Assembly to hold a special session to consider public safety legislation in response to the shooting.
“In order for this special session to be successful, it is paramount we understand the behavior and motives of the Covenant School perpetrator,” the letter said.
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