Premieres 12/1 at 8pm ET
Watch exclusively on DailyWire+
Daily Wire host Candace Owens joined a group of Tennessee lawmakers, political figures, and non-profits on Wednesday demanding federal, state, and local authorities release the Covenant School shooter’s manifesto after keeping it under wraps for over four months.
Owens, a resident of Nashville, spoke at a press conference outside the Davidson County Courthouse in Tennessee hosted by 2024 Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and alongside members of the national non-profit Faith and Freedom Coalition. The speakers stood in unison, calling on Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Nashville Metro Police Department, and the FBI to release the documents.
“I don’t want to speak to you as somebody who is a political commentator today,” Owens said. “I really want to speak to you as somebody who is an expecting mother and a mother to two young children — a two-year-old and a one-year-old — about what I think we all felt in this community that morning.”
On March 27, 2023, the shooter, a trans-identifying 28-year-old woman whom The Daily Wire is not naming to avoid giving notoriety to shooters, went on a rampage inside The Covenant School, a Presbyterian-affiliated pre-K-6 school, where she killed six people, including three 9-year-olds — Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9; Hallie Scruggs, 9; William Kinney, 9 — and three staff members — headmaster Katherine Koonce, 60; Cynthia Peak, 61; and Mike Hill, 61.
“It happened really right in my backyard, and I was behind that school just 13 minutes before the shooter was there,” Owens said. “So this literally hit home for me.”
Within about 14 minutes after the initial 911 call was received, two responding Nashville Metro Police officers shot and killed the suspect.
“We saw acts of heroism that I think are rarely displayed today, especially in the climate of cowardice that exists,” Owens said. “It was a climate of cowardice that permitted that individual to execute such a horrific crime against young children, of course, but the answer to that cowardice was extreme heroism, and we need more heroism in this society.”
Little is publicly known about the killer’s motive, but within hours after the mass shooting occurred, federal and local authorities searched her property and found five laptops, a suicide note, two memoirs, five Covenant School yearbooks, and seven cellphones, according to a search warrant. Authorities later found more writings inside the shooter’s vehicle left in the Covenant School parking lot.
It’s a long-standing tradition of U.S. law enforcement to release the manifesto of a school mass shooter when it is recovered by authorities — typically within 48 hours of the tragedy. But after months of withholding the documents from the public, there is growing speculation that the shooter’s so-called gender identity has corrupted the official’s judgment from being transparent.
“When it was a transgender individual who committed that shooting — in this particular instance — they have chosen, without explanation, not to release it and even to renege against a prior commitment to release it; that does not build trust,” Ramaswamy said.
Nashville Metro Police initially claimed they would release the writings, but have since balked due to an ongoing investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation while battling a number of lawsuits filed against the local law enforcement.
Some documents obtained by law enforcement indicated the shooter had been planning a massacre at the private Christian elementary school for months and considered “the actions of other mass murderers.”
The Daily Wire and a host of other organizations have sought access, through Freedom of Information Act requests, to a collection of her writings that has been referred to as a “manifesto.”
School officials and a group of parents — including the shooter’s — have requested that the writings remain private, citing safety concerns for their families and school staff while arguing they have rights as victims under the Tennessee Constitution that supersede the open records law. But organizations, including the National Police Association, argue that Tennessee state law requires authorities to release the manifesto to the public.
“We, of course, understand that portions may have to be redacted for whatever reason,” Owens said. “But redact those portions and allow us to examine it because what happened here in my backyard still haunts me today … as a mother … as an American citizen. And I know I’m not the only person that it haunts.”
In the months following the mass shooting, 66 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to the chief of the Nashville Metro Police requesting “the release of the perpetrator’s writings as well as relevant medical records and toxicology reports.” Richard Hollow, who represents The Tennessean, and state Sen. Todd Gardenhire, reportedly said that parents of the students should look to change the law to keep the records from going public.
Still, in her plea for transparency about the Covenant School shooting, Owens said she hopes that what happened in Nashville is not forgotten.
“This happens to the most vulnerable people in our nation,” she said. “This happens at an elementary school. We are not going to forget this in Nashville. Open the manifesto.”