Parents hope to keep Tennessee school shooter's 'dangerous and harmful' writings secret
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A group of Tennessee parents whose children attend The Covenant School, where a deadly shooting in March took the lives of three 9-year-olds and three adults, filed a motion 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.
Their motion comes just days after more than 60 Tennessee House Republicans called for the writings to be released.
In a Monday 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.
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.
Since then, the cases have become more complicated. In addition to the Covenant parents, The Covenant School is asking to intervene as well as the church that runs it, Covenant Presbyterian Church.
The Associated Press is one of several groups that have requested the writings but not filed a lawsuit to obtain them.
Police have said the shooter, Audrey Hale, had been planning the massacre for months. 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.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Mattise and Kimberlee Kruesi contributed to this report.
Travis Loller, The Associated Press