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Judge Rules Against Release of Covenant School Shooter’s Writings

Judge Rules Against Release of Covenant School Shooter’s Writings

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A Nashville judge late Thursday refused to allow the publication of writings left behind by the assailant who killed six people at a Christian school in the city last year, siding with the wishes of the families of surviving children.

The question of whether to publish the journals and other documents left behind by the assailant in the attack, in March 2023, has been at center of an emotional legal dispute, and the ruling appears all but guaranteed to be appealed.

On one side, grieving parents, most of the families of surviving students, the school and its affiliated church warned that facilitating unfettered access to the writings would further traumatize their community, and risk inspiring copycats.

But journalists, gun rights groups and a Republican state lawmaker argued that public records law required their release, particularly as the Tennessee General Assembly remains deeply divided over how to respond to the shooting.

“School shootings and violence have unfortunately become commonplace in our society,” the judge, Chancellor I’Ashea L. Myles of the Chancery Court in Davidson County, Tenn., said in her ruling. “Access to immediate information has also become a societal expectation which we all share.”

“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,” she said.

The judge ruled that a police investigative report on the shooting could be released, except for details about the school’s security.

The police have not identified a clear motive the shooting, though they have said that the assailant, a 28-year-old former student of the school, had been receiving treatment for an emotional disorder and had “considered the actions of other mass murderers.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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