NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Images of unverified pages from The Covenant School shooter’s writings were released to the public Monday by a conservative radio host.
Steven Crowder posted images of three pages of a notebook allegedly taken from the shooter’s so-called “manifesto.”
Crowder told News 2’s Nikki McGee the images were taken by a detective at the Covenant School scene and sent to his source. His team flew to Nashville to obtain the images and verify the source.
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He did not disclose if he has any more pages to share, but added Metro police should be able to authenticate the documents since they have possession of the shooter’s journals.
Metro police spokesperson Kris Mumford told News 2 the department is “still looking into it.”
“They didn’t say it’s not accurate. They said, ‘We don’t know.’ Well, that doesn’t make any sense. They’ve already come out and said that they have these documents and they’ve tried to suppress these documents. So if I’m lying, if my investigative unit…look, we stake our reputation on this. We do it all the time. We make all of our references publicly available when we’re covering news, let alone breaking news. If it’s not real, I should be admonished, I should be called to the mat, and you shouldn’t trust a word that I say,” Crowder said.
“I wonder why no one else procured this, and why our national intelligence agencies and the local police decided to actively suppress it,” he added in a separate statement.
After Crowder claimed that a detective took the pictures at the Covenant School scene, Metro police issued a statement saying that the photographs Crowder posted “are not MNPD crime scene images.”
The MNPD is in communication with the Metropolitan Department of Law as an investigation, begun this morning, continues into the dissemination of three photographs of writings during an online discussion about Covenant School. The photographs are not MNPD crime scene images.
The police department has been in contact with a representative of Covenant families. Police department counselors are available to assist them in coping with the emotional trauma caused by the dissemination of the documents.Metro Nashville Police Department
After the release of the above statement, News 2 followed up with the police department, asking whether the MNPD is denying that a detective took the pictures. A police staff member told News 2 they do not know.
On Monday night, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake released the following statement:
“I am greatly disturbed by today’s unauthorized release of three pages of writings from the Covenant shooter. This police department is extremely serious about the investigation to identify the person responsible. This action showed a total disregard for Covenant families, as well as the court system, which has control of the shooter’s journals at the present time due to litigation filed earlier this year. It is now pending in Davidson County Chancery Court and the Tennessee Court of Appeals. We are not at liberty to release the journals until the courts rule. Our police department looks forward to the ultimate resolution of the litigation concerning the journals.”Chief John Drake
Brent Leatherwood, an attorney for Covenant School families who also happens to be a father of children who attend The Covenant School, spoke during a news conference Monday condemning chastising whoever took and released the photographs.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed some of their agents spoke with Leatherwood Monday regarding the leaked photographs, but declined to comment any further.
Crowder told News 2 his undercover investigative team flew to Tennessee to verify the documents, and also verified the information through a reverse phone number search.
“Conspiracy is when our national intelligence agencies, when the FBI, the DOJ, and the local police department, not to mention all of media and big tech, decide that this will no longer be covered. When the issue at hand as far as covering it now is knowledge can be gleaned that can actually help people moving forward avoid shootings like this, potentially avoid our missteps. Hey, this is the byproduct of the kind of ideology in which all of our children in public schools are being steeped,” Crowder added.
Meanwhile, Nashville Mayor Freddie O’Connell said his office is investigating the release of the images and issued a statement, which reads:
“I have directed Wally Dietz, Metro’s Law Director, to initiate an investigation into how these images could have been released. That investigation may involve local, state, and federal authorities. I am deeply concerned with the safety, security, and well-being of the Covenant families and all Nashvillians who are grieving. This incident naturally invokes additional emotional trauma, and families or individuals who need support should reach out to professionals at National Alliance on Mental Illness (615-891-4724), MNPD support counselors (615-862-7773) or MNPS Family Information Center (615-259-INFO).”Mayor Freddie O’Connell
David Raybin, attorney for the shooter’s parents, said he is not in a position to authenticate the images and it would be inappropriate for him to comment on pending litigation.
The Covenant Families For Brighter Tomorrows told News 2 it has no comment regarding the alleged manifesto release.
On March 27, six people, including three children, were shot and killed by 28-year-old Audrey Hale at the Covenant School in Green Hills. The victims were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all 9 years old; as well as Cynthia Peak, 61; Dr. Katherine Koonce, 60; and Mike Hill, 61.
After searching the shooter’s home and car, police discovered multiple journals that allegedly documented the plans to commit mass murder months before the shooting happened.
According to police, the shooter fired a total of 152 rounds (126 rifle rounds and 26 nine-millimeter rounds) from the time Hale shot their way into the school to the time Hale was shot and killed by police.
The collective writings written by the shooter found in a vehicle left in the school parking lot, and others found in the home search, show Hale documented the planning over a period of months to commit mass murder at The Covenant School. Hale also considered “the actions of other mass murderers.”
According to the autopsy report, the shooter was wearing a white shirt with “handwritten words, drawings and numbers written on it.” The report did not detail what the writings said, but noted handwritten words were also found on the shooter’s bra.
There is an ongoing legal battle on whether the writings should be released to the public, with both sides of the aisle posing strong arguments. On Monday, Oct. 16, the Court of Appeals heard why both Covenant families and Metro Government believe they have the right to weigh in on whether the so-called manifesto is released.
There is no timeline on when the court will decide whether or not parents and Metro government will get to weigh in on the release of these documents. A separate judge will decide if, and what parts of the documents will be released.
Students, faculty and staff are set to return to The Covenant School campus in January.