A month after writings connected to the suspect accused of shooting six people at a private Tennessee Christian school in March surfaced online, police on Friday admitted they have no idea who is responsible for the leak.
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake revealed on Friday that investigators have “exhausted all available investigative avenues to identify the person who leaked photographs containing three pages of writings from the Covenant School shooter.” He confirmed that the leak showed pages from the shooter’s journals, which were taken by detectives on the scene of the March 27 school shooting.
During the grisly massacre, police say 28-year-old Audrey Hale shot six people, including three children, at the Covenant School. Police say that Hale broke into the school by shooting through the glass of locked doors, and the suspect was gunned down just minutes later by Nashville police.
The victims were identified as 9-year-old students Hallie Scrugg, Evelyn Dieckhaus, and William Kinney, as well as three staff members: Cynthia Peak, a substitute teacher; Katherine Koonce, the school’s headmistress; and Mike Hill, a janitor.
Police previously said that investigators found multiple journals in Hale’s car and home that were akin to a “manifesto.” Drake previously described that the writings detailed the “date, the actual incident… of how [the shooting] was all going to take place.” Inside a Honda Fit that Hale drove and parked at the church-based school’s campus, police say they found “additional material written by Hale.”
For months, however, authorities have denied releasing the writings to the public, sparking a legal battle that includes a case currently pending in the Tennessee Court of Appeals.
Then, last month, three photographs taken of the journals were leaked to conservative media personality Steven Crowder, who posted the images online. He later told WSMV that he did not regret posting the images that showed hate-filled language directed toward the school and a timeline of the events.
The Nov. 6 leak sparked an internal investigation and several police officers were placed on administrative assignment. Drake said during the trial, where officers were interviewed, investigators determined the cellphone photos were taken just after the journals were discovered in the shooter’s car.
A former detective who possessed the images declined an interview request “and is no longer a member of law enforcement.” Drake added that police do not have the ability to “compel statements or cooperation from former employees.” The case has now been sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
“The investigation has not identified current MNPD employees, or employees of any partner agency, as engaging in the unauthorized release of the images,” Drake added in the release. “Persons placed on administrative assignment for certain periods during the pendency of the investigation have returned to their regular duties.”