Nashville mayor orders investigation after Covenant School shooter’s writings were posted online

The mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, called Monday for an investigation after images purported to be the writings of a shooter who killed six people at The Covenant School in March were posted online.

The three images of writings, which were posted Monday by a conservative podcast and YouTube show host, are said to be from the shooter. NBC News has not confirmed whether the documents are authentic. 

Audrey Hale, 28, was killed by police after having opened fire on March 27 at the private Christian school, which Hale had once attended.

The shooter killed three children and three adults.

Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell said he directed Metro Nashville Law Director Wally Dietz “to initiate an investigation into how these images could have been released.”

“I am deeply concerned with the safety, security, and well-being of the Covenant families and all Nashvillians who are grieving,” O’Connell said in a statement.

Podcast host Steven Crowder posted the images online Monday. The writings in the images appear to have language about carrying out a shooting at a school and a date.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said the three images “are not MNPD crime scene images.” A spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the agency was aware of the images but cannot speak to their authenticity.

The three children killed in the attack were 9-year-old students, and the adults who were killed were a custodian, a substitute teacher and the head of school.

A group of parents whose children were at The Covenant School during the attacks have filed a motion seeking to keep the writings secret.

On Monday, a spokesman for those parents called whoever posted them “a viper” and said the person “released evidence that was gathered in our most vulnerable moment.”

“You have now allowed [the shooter], who terrorized our family with bullets, to be able to now terrorize us with words from the grave,” said the spokesperson, Brent Leatherwood, whose three children were at the school and survived.

A couple prays at the memorial for the Covenant School shooting victims in Nashville Tenn. on March 31, 2023. Johnnie Izquierdo / The Washington Post via Getty Im Officials have not made the writings public, and the release of any writings is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit.

In their motion seeking to keep the writings secret, the parents argued that no good can come from the release and that they do not wish for them to be me publicized. They called them “the dangerous and harmful writings of a mentally-damaged person.”

Tennessee House Republicans, however, have called for them to be released, arguing it is necessary to understand the shooter’s motivations in order to prevent future violence.

David Raybin, an attorney for Hale’s parents, said he could not speak about the writings that were shared, citing the legal proceedings.

“We’ve never seen any manifesto,” he said. “Nor are we in a position to authenticate these pieces of paper.”

Police have said Hale planned extensively for the shooting, and investigators found drawn maps of the school with surveillance and entry points.

The shooter was armed with what police have described as two assault-style rifles and a handgun.

Leatherwood said the release of the images had little value and that the world already knew that Hale was deeply disturbed but that the release caused harm to him and other parents and children.

“To the online shock jock who aired these images, I would challenge him and anyone who amplifies them online: Just be a human, for once,” Leatherwood said.

Crowder’s show did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night.

Phil Helsel

Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.

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