Three confirmed journal entries from school shooter Audrey Hale were leaked earlier this week, more than seven months after the gender confused 28-year killed six people — including three 9-year-old students — at a private Christian school in Nashville.
Hale’s many notes and journals remained hidden until conservative shock-jock Steven Crowder released them two days ago — despite Metro Nashville Police Department’s (MNPD) and others’ efforts to keep them under lock and key.
Here’s five things you need to know about Hale, her manifesto and why police haven’t publicized her motives.
Leaked Pages Reveal Hale’s Racial Motivations
Pictures of Hale’s horrific journals show a February entry titled “Kill those kids!!!” where Hale writes her intention to kill children with “white privilege and “mop-yellow” hair. She calls them racial slurs and describes them as “going to private fancy schools with those fancy khakis and sports backpack with their daddies’ mustangs and convertibles.”
Other pictured entries included a detailed schedule planning the shooting and an entry labeled “Death Day,” where Hale writes, “I hope I have a high death count.”
Police Won’t Release Hale’s Journals Because They’re Tied Up in Court
Hale’s journals and other writings are the subject of a months long legal battle to decide whether they’re public or private information.
The National Police Association (NPA) and Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA) sued the MNPD earlier this year, asking a judge to rule Hale’s writings public information and force the department to release them.
Two weeks later, Covenant School and many attending families filed a motion asking the judge to prevent the manifesto and other writings release. The materials could contain private information, they argued, and would further damage and traumatize students and their families.
A judge ruled in favor of the school and its families in May, which the NPA promptly appealed. Arguments in that case reportedly began on October 16 — but the case is ongoing. MNPD cannot release Hale’s journals, Chief John Drake wrote in a statement Monday, until the courts finish ruling.
Executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, Deborah Fisher, believes the case has larger implications for public transparency.
Tennessee law protects victims’ private information from release, or from having to confront their abuser, but “Tennessee’s victims’ rights statute does not give individuals a ‘carte blanche’ to veto other laws, such as the one that allows people the right to public records,” Fisher explains to the New York Post.
Mainstream Media are Covering the Leak, Not What Hale Wrote
Searching “manifesto Nashville shooter” under Google’s “News” tab only brought up two stories with titles focusing on the manifesto’s content, rather than investigations into its link.
Hale’s Crime is Treated Differently than Other Mass Shootings
Officials have never called Hale’s shooting a “hate crime,” or investigated it as such, despite possessing journals describing Hale’s targeting of white, “privileged” kids.
In contrast, El Paso police Chief Gregory K. Allen felt comfortable claiming the 2019 mass shooting of 20 people in a Texas Walmart appeared to have “a nexus to a hate crime,” despite the shooter’s manifesto being unverified at the time.
Perhaps most poignantly, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters called the shooting deaths of three Black people at a Dollar General in August — just five months after The Covenant School shooting — were racially motivated based on messages the shooter left before he died.
The FBI proceeded to investigate the event as a hate crime, pledging to “bring every resource to bear in this investigation.”
Hale’s manifesto and crime were not treated according to the established law enforcement playbook. We’re left to speculate as to why.
Hale Self-Identified as a Man
In addition to receiving treatment for an unnamed “emotional disorder,” Hale had reportedly called herself “Aiden” and used male pronouns for a year prior to the shooting; its unclear whether Hale was taking cross-sex hormones like testosterone.
Former police officer and professor of criminal justice Joseph Giacolone speculates Hale’s crime and manifesto were treated differently because she thought she was a boy.
“I think what (law enforcement) is really concerned with is that if there is something in there that is truly damaging for the transgender community, I think they are hesitant to do it because they are afraid of a violent backlash against that protected class of people,” he told the Post.
While we can’t know law enforcements motivations — if any — for keeping Hale’s whole manifesto quiet, she clearly received favorable media treatment. News outlets were castigated for calling Hale by female pronouns or her given name.
Some Twitter users suggested “misgendering” Hale only compounded the tragedy of her crime.
Some news outlets allegedly told reporters to omit Hale’s gender confusion in stories about the shooting, arguing it “(had) no known relevance to the crime.” Christians and conservatives raising questions about Hale’s gender confusion and mental health were characterized as spreading misinformation or putting other gender confused people in danger.
There is much we still don’t know about Audrey Hale, her motivation for committing such heinous crimes, and law enforcement conduct surrounding the release of her manifesto. We do, however, know:
- Though authorities had access to Hale’s manifesto, her shooting of six people at a Christian school was never addressed as a religious or racial hate crime.
- The news media embraced incorrect pronouns in deference to Hale’s so-called gender identity, and downplayed any role Hale’s mental illness may have had in the attack.
- Now, news outlets are shying away from covering the journals directly.
Image from Shutterstock.