Nashville argues against releasing Covenant School trans shooter’s writings

Nashville argues against releasing Covenant School trans shooter’s writings

At a hearing in the Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville on Tuesday, attorneys representing the city argued that police are still investigating various aspects of the March 2023 shooting at the Covenant School. They stated that the ongoing investigation is preventing the release of documents related to the case, including those authored by the shooter who identifies as transgender.

The hearing, overseen by Judge I’Ashea L. Myles, comes just over a year after the tragic shooting that claimed the lives of three young children and three school staff members. The debate centers on the interpretation of the Tennessee Public Records Act and the Tennessee Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights, with groups advocating for the release of the documents citing compelling public interest.

Lora Fox, an attorney for the city of Nashville, indicated that police are still investigating whether the shooter had any accomplices, despite no indication of such thus far. Fox stated that the investigation is expected to conclude by July 1, and most of the investigative file could be released, with some redactions to protect school security details, the Daily Wire reported.

Lawyers for the National Police Association and Judicial Watch argued for the presumption of openness and the need for Metro Nashville to provide a more detailed list of materials obtained from the shooter, along with specific reasons for any exemptions from release.

“The only question before the court is whether there are any exemptions that preclude public access to these records,” said Doug Pierce, a lawyer for the National Police Association. “There is a presumption of openness. Those parties have the burden of proof here. The statutes should be construed to allow the public access to records.”

In contrast, attorneys for Covenant School and Covenant Presbyterian Church argued against releasing the shooter’s writings, citing concerns that they could trigger more hatred and violence toward children and Christians. Peter Klett, a lawyer for the school, stated that the “hateful words of the shooter certainly may have an audience in the general public.”

Limited portions of the alleged manifesto, which included racial slurs against white children and an itinerary for “death day,” were previously leaked by commentator Steven Crowder.

Brent Leatherwood, a parent of Covenant School students and the head of the Southern Baptist denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, spoke with reporters outside the courtroom, arguing that the shooter’s “deranged ramblings” did not qualify as public records and that those seeking their release were acting in a way that would grant the shooter notoriety.

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