July 12, 2024

U.S.A. — In a flagrant disregard for transparency, Nashville’s Covenant School has taken legal steps to prevent the release of potentially crucial information linked to the horrific shooting that transpired on its premises in March 2023.

This information, including the ‘manifesto’ left by the shooter, Audrey Elizabeth Hale, has been the focus of several open records requests from former sheriff James Hammond and the Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA), all of which have been denied by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metro). This denial and subsequent lawsuit have raised significant questions about what the school and Metro are trying to hide from the public and pro-gun groups.

Sheriff Hammond, retired, submitted an additional open records request in which he requested:

Except as otherwise stated, the time frame for the requested records is for the period of March 27, 2023, to the date of your final response to this records request.

1. All MNPD criminal police reports documenting this incident to include but not limited to:

a. Impound/evidence invoices
b. Photographs
c. Bodycam footage
d. City/County/State and/or federal coroner information
e. Suspect toxicology/lab results
f. Audio of calls for service
g. School video footage of suspect and officers.

2. All MNPD Force Investigation Team (FIT) internal administrative investigations/reports regarding this incident to include but not limited to those mandated by The Manual of the Metropolitan Police Department of Nashville Davidson County, TN (the Department Manual) Title 1.130.050.

3. All MNPD communications, to include but not limited to directives, orders, memos, emails and/or letters, concerning the release of the contents and/or copies of the aforementioned “manifesto” of the deceased female shooting suspect.

4. All MNPD communications between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and/or the Office of the District Attorney, Nashville (20th Judicial District) regarding the designation of the aforementioned multiple shooting at a Christian School by a self-identified transgender suspect as a “hate crime.”

5. All MNPD criminal and/or field intelligence reports and/or received complaints involving the aforementioned shooting suspect (Audrey Hale) dated from January 1, 2020, to the date of your final response to this records request.

The TFA, in collaboration with Judicial Watch, has filed a lawsuit, requesting the court to order Metro to disclose specific records linked to the event. This lawsuit is not just about gaining access to records; it’s about ensuring the public’s right to transparency and the necessity to thoroughly understand the reasons behind this tragic incident, especially given Governor Bill Lee’s call for a special legislative session to consider his proposed “Red Flag” law1.

However, Covenant School’s legal team has filed a motion to intervene, alleging that the release of the information could pose security and safety risks for the school, its staff, and students.

In essence, they’re using the guise of privacy concerns to block the release of information that could shed light on the tragic incident, a move that seems more about protecting the school’s reputation than ensuring safety.

Furthermore, Metro’s support for the motion, and the delayed release of the documents following the lawsuits, raise concerns about potential collusion to keep these records hidden. Such behavior inevitably prompts questions: What are they trying to hide? How does the release of the shooter’s manifesto endanger school security? Could its disclosure potentially reveal a failure on the school’s or law enforcement’s part to act on warning signs?

It’s essential to remember that the plaintiffs are not seeking to expose sensitive personal data or compromise the safety of the Covenant School community. They merely seek to understand the motivations behind the attack. With 66 out of the 74 Tennessee GOP members calling on Nashville officials to release the documents, it is clear that the information could be integral in crafting effective solutions to prevent future acts of violence.

However, by refusing to disclose these records, the school and Metro are not only impeding justice but also contributing to an environment where speculation and misinformation thrive. The public, pro-gun groups, and news organizations deserve transparency, not a smoke screen. If there is nothing to hide, then there is no reason not to release the records. After all, the truth, no matter how uncomfortable, is the first step toward healing and prevention.

By Fred Riehl and AI technology. Note: This article was generated using AI technology and may contain some automated content and analysis.

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