NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Seven Nashville police officers have been placed on “administrative assignment” amid an investigation into the unauthorized release of some writings by the shooter who killed six people, including three children, at a private elementary school in March, authorities said Wednesday.
Earlier this week a conservative commentator released what he said were three images of Audrey Hale’s writings from the day of the March 27 shooting.
The leak alarmed local authorities, who called for an investigation into the situation, and dismayed families closely connected to the Covenant school shooting who have opposed publishing the documents for months.
Don Aaron, spokesperson for the Metro Nashville Police Department, said the officers were placed on administrative assignment to "protect the integrity of the active, progressing investigation.”
The officers, whose names have not been released, still have “full police power” and the assignments are “absolutely non-punitive," Aaron said.
Aaron declined to disclose how the seven officers were identified, citing the ongoing investigation, and added that the officers “are available to assist in the ongoing investigation as needed.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Freddie O'Connell, who called on the city's law department to lead the investigation into the leak, said they were “aware" of the latest development, but did not comment further.
According to court filings, the shooter left behind at least 20 journals, a suicide note and a memoir. Until this week, however, none of the writings had seen the light of day due to a legal battle over whether or not they should be made public.
Nashville police initially said they would release the documents but only after an investigation was officially closed, which could have taken months. In response, groups seeking the documents filed a lawsuit arguing that since the suspect was dead, they should be released immediately.
That lawsuit is ongoing, with many of the families saying publication of the documents would cause more pain and possibly spark copycats.
The three children killed in the shooting were Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney, all 9 years old. The three adults were Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of the school, custodian Mike Hill, 61, and 61-year-old substitute teacher Cynthia Peak.