NBC News: Nashville shooter's motive remains unclear

NBC News has been trying to write this story since the Nashville shooting happened. Their first attempt last month was titled, “Some on the right blame gender identity and not guns for Nashville shooting.” Here’s how it opened.

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In the hours after the shooting at a private Christian school in Nashville on Monday, some conservatives rushed to blame the massacre on the suspect’s gender identity, connecting the tragedy to their national crusade against transgender rights.

Little is so far known publicly about the motives of the shooter, whom police identified as a transgender former student of The Covenant School who resented having to attend the facility.

Two weeks later, a different group of writers at NBC have produced an updated story headlined, “Motive in Nashville shooting remains unclear weeks after 6 people were killed at a Christian school.”

More than two weeks after a mass shooting at a Nashville Christian school, investigators have not yet identified a clear motive in the attacker’s journal writings, and authorities have not provided any details publicly to back up their early suggestion that the shooter may have felt resentment toward the school.

One of Tennessee’s top law enforcement officials said in a recent meeting that the writings of the 28-year-old shooter, Audrey Hale, appear to be ramblings and indicative of a mental health struggle.

A federal law enforcement source verified to NBC News that no direct motive has been established in the investigation and suggested that the driving force of the attack was similar to previous school shootings in which the assailant was drawn to other mass killers.

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I’m starting to get the same feeling I had when the FBI couldn’t figure out why a left-wing nut with a list of Republican office holders in his pocket shot up a bunch of Republicans at a baseball field in 2017. The answer seemed obvious to most people but since there wasn’t a message saying “I’m going to kill Republicans” in the shooter’s handwriting the FBI was at a loss. And here we are again with the local police and the FBI looking over the Nashville shooter’s writings and unable to see a motive.

While local investigators said they are continuing to analyze the writings with assistance from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in Quantico, Virginia, some in the community said the writings must be made public without delay to help people understand the carnage and Hale’s state of mind.

I’m finding this hard to believe but obviously I haven’t seen the “manifesto” the shooter left behind. I will note that one of the people who has read all of Hale’s writings claimed they didn’t add up to much of a manifesto at all. He described them as more of a rambling diary.

TBI director David Rausch did talk candidly about the contents of the manifesto at a Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association meeting. Rausch said what police found isn’t so much a manifesto spelling out a target but a series of rambling writings indicating no clear motive…

Rausch told sheriffs that the review so far of the material finds that the killer did not write about specific political, religious or social issues. In fact, a primary focus in the journals is on idolizing those who committed prior school shootings.

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If you’re suspicious about Rausch, I will note that NBC reports he gave an interview to a site called Pray In Jesus Name News. “Ideological expressions — none of that has surfaced in these writings,” he said. Based on his decision to give an interview to that outlet I’m guessing he’s not a left-wing activist, but I don’t know for certain.

What we really need at this point is for authorities to release this stuff. The shooter is dead so there’s no question of prejudicing a future jury. The FBI and the TBI can continue to look over the writings as long as they want but there’s no real reason to hold them back from everyone else.

Finally, one of the reasons it’s hard for me to believe there’s no evidence of motive in the writings is that Hale herself seemed to suggest there would be enough to help it make sense.

Just before 10 a.m. Monday, the shooter sent an ominous message to a childhood friend, the friend told CNN on Tuesday. In an Instagram message to Averianna Patton, a Nashville radio host, just before 10 a.m. Monday, the shooter said “I’m planning to die today” and that it would be on the news.

“One day this will make more sense,” Hale wrote. “I’ve left more than enough evidence behind. But something bad is about to happen.”

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That’s where my expectation is coming from that the writings should provide a clue to her motive. But I guess it’s possible it only made sense to Hale because she was seriously mentally ill at the time. Bottom line, I don’t want to take anyone else’s word on this. I want to read the documents myself and make up my own mind about whether these really were the ramblings of a generic mentally ill woman/trans person or something else.

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Jazz Shaw 9:20 AM | May 30, 2024
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