NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A judge will decide Wednesday if the families of the Covenant School shooting victims can be involved in deciding whether or not to release the killer’s writings to the public.
Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the third-party involvement is “highly unusual” and could change what information Tennesseans have access to in the future.
“I don’t see how it doesn’t create a slippery slope,” said Fisher. “It would be an enormous change in terms of the information flow about crime in this state because you now have someone who can potentially trump the release of information.”
She said residents could potentially have much less information on crime if victims have a say in what is shared.
“That would be a new world for us in Tennessee,” said Fisher. “We are used to police being able to release things.”
The Covenant parents are citing the Tennessee Crime Victims Bill of Rights, which says crime victims are free from intimidation, abuse, harassment and have the right to be heard when relevant. They said a release of the shooter’s writings could put these protections in jeopardy.
A judge is also considering bringing in an expert to share how releasing the shooter’s writings could impact families. If that happens, Fisher said the case will last longer.
She said the delay is also causing some confusion as police are saying this is still an active and ongoing investigation, but haven’t been clear with the public about whether or not there’s a co-conspirator in the shooting, begging the question for some: Is it an open investigation or not?
“This is confusing, you know, is there somebody else out there?” asked Fisher. “[Police have] been careful to say they don’t think that and now they’re kind of hinting that that may be the case. I mean, they need to clear that up.”
The judge has not indicted what time on Wednesday, May 24 the ruling will come down.