The Nashville school shooting should be investigated as a hate crime since the transgender shooter intentionally targeted Christians, Sen. Josh Hawley told Fox News on Tuesday.
The Trans Resistance Network, a trans activist group, said the transgender shooter felt “no other effective way to be seen” than by killing six people at a private Presbyterian school. Metropolitan Nashville Police Chief John Drake, said Monday night that some believe the shooter held “resentment for having to go to that school.”
“What police have told us in Nashville is that this was targeted at this Christian school, the Christian students, the Christian employees and that they believe it was definitely premeditated and there was a deliberate attempt to target the school,” Hawley told Fox News in a sit–down interview. “We need to be clear that when you target people of faith, that is a hate crime.”
Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a 28-year-old transgender Nashville resident, shot and killed three students and three faculty members at The Covenant School, according to local police. The institution is a private Christian school for students ranging from preschool to sixth grade.
“We’ve seen a lot of language directed at the Christian community with regard to particularly trans issues, calling them hateful,” Hawley told Fox News. “That kind of rhetoric is dangerous, and we’re seeing its effects right now.”
“That’s part of the investigation and discussion we need to have,” the Missouri Republican.
NASHVILLE SCHOOL SHOOTING ‘TARGETED’ CHRISTIANS, SEN. HAWLEY SAYS:
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Christians have at times been accused of being transphobic for believing there are only two genders, advocating against gender transition surgeries and restricting children from learning about sexual preference and gender identity in schools. On Monday, for example, it was reported that a Michigan teacher said, “It is far more admirable to kill a racist, homophobic, or transphobic speaker than it is to shout them down.”
Drake told reporters that Hale targeted the school but not specific individuals, though a motive remains unknown. He also said Hale, a former Covenant student, possibly prepared for the shooting with drawn maps of the school. She also wrote a manifesto, he said, though police don’t plan to release it.
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The manifesto is important to the investigation and prosecutors’ potential hate crime case, Hawley told Fox News.
“We should be clear about what happened in Nashville. Police say the shooting was “targeted,”‘ Hawley tweeted Tuesday. “That makes it a federal hate crime – against Christian children and teachers.”
TENNESSEE SHOOTING: NASHVILLE POLICE RELEASE SECURITY CAMERA FOOTAGE OF COVENANT SCHOOL ATTACK THAT KILLED 6
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Hawley, a former Missouri attorney general, also sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging them to open a federal hate crime investigation.
“Hate that leads to violence must be condemned,” Hawley wrote. “And hate crimes must be prosecuted.”
Police identified the victims as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney — all age 9 — as well as Cynthia Peak, 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill, 61. Koonce was the head of school.
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“Thank you to those law enforcement who went in there, went right into the fire and subdued that shooter, took that shooter out and saved all of those kids,” Hawley told Fox News. “To have saved hundreds more plus the teachers is just extraordinary.”
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, did not immediately return a request for comment.
To watch the full interview with Hawley, click here.
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the production of this video.