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6/6/2024 Commentary on Covenant Documents

The big burning question in the still open investigation into the Covenant shooting is one that is hard to pin down. We know the shooter, Audrey Hale, was in the care of several therapists. In the state of Tennessee there is a mandatory requirement to report if a patient gives any sign that the patient is about to harm themselves …or harm others. They must take some action to insure the person cannot kill themselves or bring harm to others.


Did that happen? In other words, did any therapist who spent time with the shooter over the years ever reach out and warn anyone that she had admitted to having fantasies of killing herself or others? Could this tragedy, that led to the death of 6 lives, have been avoided?


I have obtained documents that provide a unique window in the investigation being carried out by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department. My knowledge is incomplete on this question because I simply don’t have access to all the case files.


But I can tell you that the shooter admitted to a therapist all the way back when she was middle school that she fantasized about carrying out a school shooting.


Detectives asked her parents about that:


“Did she have homicidal ideations ever? Did she ever express to you guys about having thoughts of homicide,” they asked. Did (therapists) ever express to you guys that she was having homicidal ideations or anything like that?


Her father responded. “None of her therapists ever felt that they had a duty to warn anybody.”


When police entered her bedroom after the shooting, they found videos and written materials regarding the Columbine School shooting. Her diaries are apparently filled with references to Columbine … and it appeared to investigators that Audrey Hale had some empathy for the Columbine shooters.


Her parents were completely unaware.


“It was in her writings?”, her mother asked.


Investigators replied, “She was speaking with a physician or a therapist or someone and said those things. I believe she bought them off Amazon.” So, of Course I was … curious what you guys thought about that?


Her mother replied, “I didn’t – I didn’t know anything.”


Her father added it was never mentioned by doctors at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Emergency Room


”They didn’t tell us about that”, he said.


In this interview, conducted four months after the shooting, her parents professed to be completely unaware of many of the things their 28-year-old daughter had written about in her 20 journals. Like the fact that on many occasions the shooter wrote about wanting to kill her father. That was a complete revelation to her father. He had no idea, but he did admit later that his daughter tended to “stew over” things.


The journals reveal that since she was a teenager, the shooter had fantasized about carrying out a school attack at several of the schools she attended. The planning was very detailed in an her journals. She even wrote up fake news releases about the incident and wrote fake obituaries of certain individuals that she intended to kill.


Investigators told her parents that the journal writings contained “so much anger and rage and so much planning.” Her parents repeatedly denied they had seen any evidence that their daughter was about to carry out such a heinous attack.


However, they said very different things on the day of the attack. When detectives arrived at their home on the day of the shooting, the first thing Mr. Hale asked was whether it had been his daughter who carried out the shooting at Covenant School.


Just minutes after the attack Ms. Hale told detectives that her daughter had been seen by a child psychologist who told them their daughter “had ideas about hurting herself and others.”


This, of course. is the big remaining issue – and why police say the investigation is still open and ongoing. There are three big remaining questions:


1.)  If, as the evidence suggests, Audrey Hale told any of her therapists that she fantasized about carrying a school attack, did they follow the law?  Did they take any actions to notify laws enforcement? Did the take any assertive actions to make sure she would not carry out such attacks?


2.) If they did, what actions were taken?


3.)  Do police have any records that indicate that they received any warning?


Hindsight is, of course, 20/20. But the evidence that is beginning to emerge in the documents I have reviewed is that for more than a decade there were signs Audrey Hale was obsessively thinking about carrying out a deadly school shooting and nothing was done to make sure she did not carry out her fantasies.


More tomorrow .


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