Court Orders Release of Nashville School Shooter’s Manifesto

A federal district court ordered the release of documents including the manifesto of Covenant School shooter, Audrey Hale. The ruling comes almost one year after the shooter killed three students and three staff members at the Nashville, Tennessee, Christian school. The FBI contested the release of the shooter’s writings citing that the manifesto would hinder ongoing investigations.

The shooter was a 28-year-old woman who identified as a man by the name of Aiden. She was a former student of Covenant School, but did not have an appreciation of the school or its students.

The shooter proclaimed it as “Death Day” and excitedly wrote “The day has finally come!” on March 27, 2023, before entering the school and murdering six people. Hale was shot and killed by law enforcement during the attack.

Prior to this ruling, a judge sided with the FBI in July 2023, prohibiting the release of the manifesto and other documents that could show motivation for the crime. Seven Nashville metro Police officers were suspended when three pages of the manifesto were leaked to conservative podcaster, Steven Crowder.

Star News Digital Media Inc., which is the parent company of the Tennessee Star asked for the documents using several Freedom of Information Act requests but were denied. The recent ruling was seen as a victory for the First Amendment. Conservative pundits speculated the shooter’s gender identity played a role in keeping the manifesto from the public.

U.S. District Court Judge, Aleta Traugera ruled that the FBI did not support its assertion of how the release of these documents would jeopardize other investigations. Michael Patrick Leahy, the CEO and editor-in-chief of Star News Digital Media, said he was encouraged by the court’s action.

Covenant School does not want the manifesto released citing safety concerns for the school. This came after many parents of Covenant School also wanted the manifesto suppressed. Most states have legally defined victims’ rights prohibiting the release of certain information related to the case of a criminal proceeding to protect the privacy of the victims.