The parents of three children who were killed and traumatized in a mass shooting at Nashville’s Covenant School in March are asking a court to stop the publication of the killer’s writings, saying no one suffered more than themselves
The motion was filed Wednesday in Davidson County Chancery Court in response to three separate lawsuits seeking that the diaries of 28-year-old Audrey Hale, the gunman, be released to shed light on a possible motive for the massacre .
In their lawsuit, the parents asked a judge to schedule a hearing at which they could testify about the victims’ impact on their lives.
“No one has been more traumatized or suffered more than the families of the victims and survivors of the atrocities at Covenant School. Nobody,” says the letter submitted by the parents. “And no one can claim any remotely similar interest in whether the shooter’s writings are made public.”
On March 27, Hale, a former student at the private Christian school, launched an attack on the campus that killed three nine-year-old students and three adults, according to police. Hale used a legally-obtained AR-15 rifle and another gun in the killing spree and fired 152 shots in 14 minutes before he was fatally shot by a police officer, officials said.
About a week after the shooting, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department released a statement saying journals and maps were found in Hale’s vehicle and at his home. It said the attack had been planned over a period of months and that “Hale took into account the actions of other mass murderers.”
The collected writings were reviewed by Nashville detectives and the FBI’s Behavior Analysis Unit in Quantico, Virginia.
“The motive for Hale’s actions is unknown,” police said in an April 3 statement.
The brief submitted to the court by the parents of the murdered children said that three-fourths of the Covenant School’s parents supported the motion to keep Hale’s writings under court seal.
“The parents see nothing good in the publication and wish to advocate that the writings – which they believe to be the dangerous and harmful writings of a mentally impaired person – should not be published at all,” the brief said.
However, should the court decide to publish an edited version of Hale’s writings, the parents requested that it be done after the school year ended on June 8, “so that the children of Covenant School may end the school year in peace.”
“The parents humbly and respectfully ask that the court spare them and their children the additional pain that would be caused by the release of these documents through the end of the school year,” the parents’ court filing said.
The parents added that they fear Hale’s writings could lead to “copycat attacks.”
A hearing on the matter was scheduled for Thursday but has now been postponed to Monday.
The parents’ request came just two days after more than 60 members of the Republican caucus in the Tennessee House of Representatives signed a letter they sent to Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Chief John Drake urging him to forward Hale’s writings publish. Lawmakers wrote that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has asked the General Assembly to hold a special session to consider public safety laws in response to the shooting.
“In order for this special session to be successful, it is paramount that we understand the behavior and motives of the Covenant School perpetrator,” the letter said.