More than 60 members of the Tennessee House Republican Caucus have signed a letter calling for Metro Nashville Police to release the Covenant school shooter’s manifesto.
The writings of transgender killer Audrey Hale have become a focal point since the March 27 mass shooting, as the FBI has sought to keep them under wraps — prompting two lawsuits to compel their release.
A letter to Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake sent Monday was signed by 66 caucus members and requests “the release of the perpetrator’s writings as well as relevant medical records and toxicology reports.”
Rep. Jeremy Faison, House Republican Caucus Chair, told The Post Wednesday his group doesn’t “understand the apprehension,” and pointed out legislators are being asked to consider new gun control legislation since the shooting without knowing the totality of Hale’s circumstances.
“It’s incumbent on us to understand all the ins and outs of what drove Audrey Hale to do what she did,” Faison told The Post by phone.
“We have been told from the beginning that she detailed in her journal all sorts of stuff – she talked about the school, she talked about her parents … this is what’s come from our commissioner of safety to me, personally.”
But he further slammed officials for failing to give “a good reason why” they’re dragging their feet on the release, other than fears of a copycat — which can be quelled through careful redaction, he said.
“I think Tennesseans would agree with me. Even Democrats or Republicans where I live are like, ‘Yeah, something just doesn’t feel right that they keep pushing [back] on the release.’”
Hale, 28, blasted her way into the private elementary school, which she had previously attended, on the morning of March 27 and unleashed 14 minutes of terror.
She killed three adults and three children before being gunned down by police.
Hale’s writings were found in her car and her home by police following the attacks.
Monday’s letter was signed by 66 of the 74 Republican Caucus members, including Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton.
It begins by thanking Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) for its efforts and response to the school shooting.
“As you know, Governor Bill Lee has called upon the General Assembly to consider public safety legislation in response to these events in an extraordinary special session scheduled for Aug. 21,” the letter states. “In order for this special session to be successful, it is paramount we understand the behavior and motives of the Covenant School perpetrator.”
Drake had not yet responded as of Wednesday, Faison said.
Rep. Faison said Wednesday he questioned the reason for the government’s unwillingness to release any writings.
“I’m always anxious when the government people tell me this isn’t good for y’all to look at,” he said. “I’ll be the decider if I should look at it or not.”
Faison said access to the writings could help elected officials “identify some areas that we could potentially save some lives.”
“And since they’ve been pushing back so hard against releasing it, it causes my caucus and myself as a leader in the state to say, ‘Wait a minute, what?’”
“We don’t understand the apprehension … whether it was a Democrat, whether it’s Republican, it doesn’t matter, it feels wrong that people are pushing back so hard.”
He added: “Let the people decide if there’s something we can learn.”
The Covenant School and parents of the three nine-year-olds who died are among those who have sought to block the release of writings.
A filing made with the Tennessee court handling the case Wednesday on the behalf of parents of children at the Covenant school, which requested a judge hear their plea before making a decision on whether to release any writings.
It states: “No one was more traumatized, or has suffered more, than the families of the victims … And no one can claim a remotely similar interest in whether the writings of the shooter be released.”
It came a day after the school itself also filed asking the judge not to release Hale’s writings.
Lee had announced one month after the tragedy that police officials had assured him documents and information related to the Hale would “be released to the public very soon.”
But MNPD reversed course after a pair of lawsuits demanding the documents be released. T
he suits were filed separately by Tennessee Firearms Association Inc. and former Tennessee-area Sheriff James Hammond and the National Rifle Association and private investigator Clata Brewer.
Police cited their attorneys’ advice and blamed the recent litigation for their decision to delay the release.
Gov. Lee had cited the Covenant shooting when urging new gun control legislation, which would include background checks on mental health.
The attorney behind the Tennessee Firearms Association (TRA) suit said his clients filed public record requests for the documents in the wake of Lee’s gun control push.
But they were denied, with officials citing the ongoing investigation.
“The answers that Metro has given so far is that there’s an ongoing criminal investigation, which — looking at the facts and the other statements that they’ve made — one might question, knowing that the only person that’s been identified in the criminal activity has been deceased for a month,” the attorney, TRA President John Harris previously told The Post.
Last month, Lee announced his support of legislation calling for law enforcement and courts to temporarily confiscate guns from those found to pose “current and ongoing” risks of harm, The Tennessean reported.
“To be specific, I’m proposing that we improve our state’s law so that it protects more Tennesseans and reaches more individuals who are struggling and in need of mental health support,” Lee reportedly said.
Under the proposed law, people deemed risks to others or themselves would have their firearms taken for up to 180 days.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Ray Clemmons said: “Rather than reach across the aisle and work with me and my Democratic colleagues, each of whom is ready to return to the Capitol and get to work immediately on sensible gun safety legislation, the GOP is bizarrely focused on a diary.
A hearing on the manifesto set for May 18 has since been postponed.