Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) called on FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to open a federal hate crime investigation into the Monday shooting at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee.
Police say a 28-year-old woman who identified as a transgender man killed three 9-year-old children and three adults at The Covenant School, which is associated with the conservative evangelical Covenant Presbyterian Church. Authorities revealed that the shooter, whom The Daily Wire will not name in accordance with company policy, executed a “targeted attack” and left behind a “manifesto.”
Hawley contended that the nature of the fatal shooting might indicate a specific desire to harm Christians. “Yesterday the nation witnessed the vicious murder of small schoolchildren in Nashville, Tennessee,” he wrote in a letter to the senior Biden administration officials. “It is commonplace to call such horrors ‘senseless violence.’ But properly speaking, that is false. Police report that the attack here was ‘targeted’ — targeted, that is, against Christians.”
The Republican lawmaker added that federal law criminalizes acts of violence based on their actual or perceived “religion.” Police detectives believe the shooter had “some resentment” for having to attend that school.
“I urge you to immediately open an investigation into this shooting as a federal hate crime,” Hawley continued. “The full resources of the federal government must be brought to bear to determine how this crime occurred, and who may have influenced the deranged shooter to carry out these horrific crimes. Hate that leads to violence must be condemned. And hate crimes must be prosecuted.”
The suspected shooter executed her attack the same week the Trans Radical Activist Network called for a “day of vengeance.”
The students killed in the shooting were identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all 9 years old. Dr. Katherine Koonce, the school’s 60-year-old principal, was also killed, as were 61-year-old staffers Cynthia Peak and Mike Hill.
Hallie was the daughter of Chad Scruggs, the senior minister at Covenant Presbyterian Church.
The suspected shooter sent messages to her former middle school basketball teammate moments before the attack, saying she was “planning to die today” and that the friend would “probably hear” about her on the news. “My family doesn’t know what I’m about to do,” she added. “One day this will make more sense. I’ve left more than enough evidence behind.”
Officers from the Metro Nashville Police Department responded minutes after the shooter breached The Covenant School. A team of five officers immediately rushed into the building, and two of the officers exchanged fire with the shooter, killing her at the scene.
Local authorities and the FBI searched the suspect’s home on Monday afternoon, uncovering a “manifesto” along with maps of the school drawn in detail that included points of entry. The police chief said authorities have a theory on the motive, which they are not yet ready to share.