Authorities are investigating online posts allegedly showing Nashville school shooter’s writings
Nov 7, 2023, 6:30 AM
(Metro Nashville Police)
(CNN) — Nashville police say an investigation began Monday morning into three photographs that surfaced online of alleged writings connected to the March shooting at a private Christian school that left three 9-year-olds and three adults dead.
The pictures of writings allegedly from the 28-year-old shooter, who was a former student at The Covenant School, were released by a conservative political commentator Monday.
The photographs come amid an intense legal battle among groups who want evidence – including the writings – released by authorities and parents who say their release will cause further trauma.
One page of the writings appears to be a day’s checklist, while another is filled with angry ramblings. It’s unclear how many more pages of writings there may be, and what the contents of other pages are.
Authorities have previously said they combed through a notebook of writings from the shooter to learn more, and that the shooter had written extensively in a personal notebook about the attack. The attacker was shot and killed by police at the school.
CNN is reviewing the images and attempting to verify their authenticity.
CNN has also previously reported about journals authorities found from the shooter which were described as being related to “school shootings; firearm courses.”
In a statement, Mayor Freddie O’Connell said he directed the city’s law department to conduct an investigation into “how these images could have been released.”
“That investigation may involve local, state, and federal authorities,” the mayor said. “I am deeply concerned with the safety, security, and well-being of the Covenant families and all Nashvillians who are grieving.”
An attorney for the shooter’s parents was unable to authenticate the writings, telling CNN in a statement, “we did not release them,” and that they have never seen the shooter’s writings.
Federal authorities would not comment on the authenticity of the documents.
“As this matter is being addressed by the courts, the FBI will not be commenting on the reported documents,” the FBI said.
The shooter’s writings have been part of a monthslong legal fight playing out in Nashville over the release of documents and records related to the March 27 shooting.
The case involves requests for public records filed by gun rights advocates and news organizations that are seeking to compel Nashville’s city government to disclose writings left behind by the shooter that could shed light on the motive for the attack – which could include the shooter’s journals and a suicide note.
Those petitioning to have the writings released – including The Tennessean newspaper – say the documents are public records and the First Amendment and the Tennessee Constitution grant public access to the records.
The National Police Association and the Tennessee Firearms Association, who are also suing for the records, argue lessons gleaned from the writings could benefit public safety by shedding light on the killer’s thinking.
But the parents of two of the three children who were killed have asked the court to deny Freedom of Information Act requests for the release of the shooter’s writings.
The church that runs the school also wants to prevent records from being released, and it is supported by many of the school students’ parents, who fear the release could cause “copycat attacks,” CNN has reported.
Erin Kinney, the mother of one of the students killed, wrote in June that those demanding for the release of the materials were helping the dead shooter accomplish “immortality” and she described her responsibility to protect the surviving victims from what she called “the unfathomable trauma of encountering sensitive material about the deaths of their siblings, friends, teachers; and most certainly to protect them from ever encountering the hateful, diseased words of the monster who slaughtered six human beings in their school.”
The mother said that the “mass murderer” should not get to speak from the grave “while our three children, along with the three adult victims are silenced in this life.”
A ruling is expected from the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the National Police Association said in a statement on Monday.
“The City of Nashville is not under any court order to keep the requested materials secret. They can comply with the demands of our lawsuit at any time and end the needless waste of time before the materials are examined and used to benefit the public and law enforcement alike,” the association’s statement said.
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