May 22, 2023 - News

Debate over Covenant School shooting records ratchets up

Nashville police block the entrance of the Covenant School, a Presbyterian school associated with a church after three children and three adults were gunned down

Police outside The Covenant School on March 27. Photo: Benjamin Hendren/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The legal battle over documents related to The Covenant School shooting is intensifying, with parents, politicians and the media debating how to handle the release of materials tied to the shooter.

Driving the news: Tennessee Republicans have called for police to release the shooter's writings and other evidence, saying the records could guide their policy response during an upcoming special session on guns.

  • Multiple parties have filed lawsuits in an attempt to obtain the records, including the Tennessean newspaper and state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • Some of the complaints have been merged.

A group of Covenant School parents have asked to intervene, as has the school itself and the church affiliated with the school.

  • In their filing, the Covenant parents argued "no good" could come from releasing any of the records, "which they believe are the dangerous and harmful writings of a mentally-damaged person."
  • The Covenant School separately argued the documents might include information related to school security or personnel.

State of play: Metro police initially indicated they would release redacted versions of the writings, but they halted those efforts after the lawsuits emerged.

  • The department has declined public records requests, citing an ongoing investigation.
  • In a court filing, a police investigator estimated the investigation could be underway for 12 months.

Between the lines: The March 27 shooting, which killed three 9-year-old children and three school employees, spurred massive protests and calls for gun reforms.

  • Police said the shooter, who was killed by responding officers, was a former Covenant School student.
  • The department disclosed that investigators were reviewing the shooter's journals, but police have not discussed details or identified a definitive motive.

The Tennessean, which filed its suit jointly with Gardenhire, argued the documents could "bring to light additional facts regarding this incident, societal and mental health issues, and issues regarding firearms more broadly, which have not yet been revealed through other means."

  • The suit argues the criminal investigation was no longer active because the shooter was dead.

The latest: Chancellor I'Ashea Myles, who has reviewed documents related to the investigation and proposed redactions, is expected to consider several issues related to the suits during a hearing at 1pm today.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Nashville stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Nashville.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more