Mar 31, 2023 - Politics

Ogles calls for hate crime investigation

Rep. Andy Ogles

Rep. Andy Ogles. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, the conservative freshman congressman who represents much of Nashville, is calling for a federal hate crime investigation into The Covenant School shooting that killed six people, including three 9-year-old students.

Driving the news: Ogles and U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden, a Texas Republican, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday urging him to open the investigation.

  • "Federal law is clear, acts of violence against individuals based on religious affiliation are hate crimes," the congressmen wrote in their letter.

State of play: Nashville police are working with the FBI and other agencies to investigate the shooting and a "manifesto" left behind by the shooter. They identified the shooter as Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old former student at the private Christian school.

  • Investigators confirmed Hale targeted The Covenant School, but law enforcement has not spoken definitively about a motive.

"We are certainly working full time with them to determine what the motive is, and of course, motive is what determines whether it’s a hate crime or not," Garland told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

In the letter, Ogles and Gooden wrote that the motive was "clear as day."

  • "The [shooter] was a former student at Covenant school and specifically chose to terrorize this school because of their Christian faith."

The other side: "Andy Ogles wasn’t concerned about a motive after the massacre of Black people in Buffalo or Asian women in Atlanta," state Sen. Heidi Campbell tells Axios. "In fact, this is the first time Andy Ogles has ever cared about a motive in a mass shooting."

  • "It’s time to address the real problem: Weapons of war are flooding our communities. Hate is hate, and it's killing us."

Flashback: Tennessee Republicans drew new congressional maps last year, creating drastically different boundaries for the fifth district long represented by Democrat Jim Cooper from Nashville.

  • The new lines made the seat a certain Republican pickup, and Ogles battled through a crowded primary to win it. Although he cruised to the general election win in November, Davidson County voters supported Campbell, his Democratic challenger, who won 60% of the vote compared to 38% for Ogles.

Ogles also filed a resolution honoring the police officers who responded to the shooting, his office said.


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