NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Calls to release the Covenant School shooter’s personal documents have started to heat up in the past week.
“One of the problems with not releasing the material is that it has allowed conspiracy theories to blossom,” Deborah Fisher said.
In a post on her organization’s website, Fisher, the executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, wrote, “The Tennessee Supreme Court has recognized an exemption to the state’s public records law for police records under Rule 16(a)(2) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure.”
However, she points out that rule only applies if law enforcement is contemplating a criminal investigation. At this point, the Metro Nashville Police Department has said the shooter acted alone.
“If they are thinking about charging someone else, that would be important,” Fisher said. “If they aren’t they need to be clear, and I think they’ve actually been fairly clear about that.”
Law enforcement originally called the materials left behind a ‘manifesto’ but have since called it ‘writings or journals.’
Regardless, pressure to release more information is heating up.
“They know that they can’t withhold it unless they’re actually investigating and considering potential criminal charges, and that may be the case,” Fisher said. “But that is not what they’ve said.”
The mounting pressure isn’t just coming from independent groups—it’s coming from mostly Republican legislators, too.
“I’m not hypothesizing that there’s something that could be in there that we could learn,” House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) said. “But I think there’s a potential that we could understand her broken thoughts that led her to do that.”
Though they had their similarities, Faison wanted the release for a few different reasons than Fisher.
“Regardless of how we look at it, the FBI has been politicized in the last several years,” he said. “I have great concern when they’re apprehensive of releasing something to the public that should be open to the public.”
But both Fisher and Faison agree: Lawmakers should see the writings before the upcoming special session.
“They want to see more about what were the motives in this case. They want to understand it more deeply, too,” Fisher said. “So, they have a legitimate interest, as well.”
The issue has even made it to Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee), who wrote on Twitter Thursday, “Tennesseans deserve clarity.”
“I’ve been talking with Chief Drake’s office, of the Nashville Police Department,” he told reporters in Covington Friday. “They have indicated that they’ll be releasing information about that soon.”
As for the special session, Lee’s office said it wouldn’t be until at least after July 4th, while Faison said it could come even later.
“The governor has not immediately called a special session,” he said. “It’s looking like it’s going to be toward August or September.”