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Covenant School Shooter's Writings Won't Be Released: Judge

Covenant School Shooter’s Writings Won’t Be Released: Judge

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A Nashville judge ruled Thursday that the writings of a school shooter who killed three children and three adults last year will not be published, according to The New York Times. This decision aligns with the wishes of the families of the children who survived. The judge will allow police reports, with sections about the school’s security redacted, to be released when ready.

The shooter, Aiden Hale (born Audrey Hale), who was 28 at the time, entered Nashville’s Covenant School shortly after 10 a.m. on March 27, 2023, and began shooting. Police killed Hale before 10:30 a.m. Writings that leaked in the months after the shooting suggested that Hale had planned the attack and had even described it as a “death day.”

The Times reports that the decision to publish Hale’s other writings has been contested in court since the shooting. Survivors and school officials believe that releasing the writings could inspire copycat killers; journalists, gun rights advocates, and a Republican state politician disagree, arguing that the writings are in the public interest. The families believe that the focus should be on gun safety, while conservatives are focusing on police reports that suggested the shooter was transgender. An appeal of the judge’s decision is likely.

“Access to immediate information has also become a societal expectation which we all share,” Chancellor I’Ashea L. Myles of the Chancery Court, the judge, wrote in her ruling, according to the Times. “However, there are occasions when this immediate access to and demand for information must be balanced and moderated to safeguard the integrity of our legal system, particularly the criminal legal system.”

Police say Hale, who had attended the school, had been treated for an emotional disorder and had read about other mass murderers, according to the Times. The authorities do not believe Hale’s gender was a motive in the crime, though they still have no clear motive.


Last summer, Hale’s parents signed over legal ownership of the writings to the families of surviving students, The Times reported. This transfer has raised questions about who owns the copyright — the right to publish — the texts. Chancellor Myles cited this copyright issue as another reason to withhold the documents.

Police recovered 20 notebooks, five computers, a suicide note, and other writings when searching Hale’s home after the shooting. Authorities also uncovered two memoirs, five Covenant School yearbooks, and seven cell phones.

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