Judge rejects requests to release Nashville school shooter’s writings

The lengthy manifesto written by the Nashville, Tenn., shooter who killed three 9-year-olds and three adults at a Christian private school will not be released to the public, a judge ruled.

The families of the victims will control the release of the documents, as they now hold the copyright of the materials, Chancery Court Judge I’Ashea Myles explained in the ruling.

The shooter’s parents adopted the copyright strategy as an unconventional approach to shield the documents and circumvent the Tennessee Public Records Act. In the effort, they transferred ownership of the materials to the victim’s families.

Interest in the writings, in part, stems from the shooter’s gender identity. According to the police, shooter Audrey Hale identified as a transgender man and used he/him pronouns. Some have floated the theory that the shooting at the Covenant School was a deliberate hate crime against Christians, and hope to confirm that belief with the journal entries.

During the case, the Covenant parents argued against the public release of the documents, saying it would further traumatize the families and could inspire copycats, according to The Associated Press.

In December of 2023, Nashville police investigated a leak of the journals’ pages but came up empty-handed.

Myles ultimately agreed that the risk of copycats was a legitimate concern.

“Hale used the writings of other perpetrators in similar crimes to guide how this plan was constructed and accomplished, mimicking some not only in their methodology, but also choice of weapons and targets,” Myles wrote. “Hale even held past perpetrators out as heroes in their attacks, idolizing them.”

While the lawsuit will protect many of the documents created by Hale, other documents in the police filing could become public once the case is closed.

The Associated Press contributed.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.