Attorney General Merrick Garland stated Tuesday the motive of the Nashville Christian School shooter will determine if Monday’s massacre was a hate crime or not.
The shooter was a “[f]ormer Christian school student,” according to Reuters. Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake told NBC News that investigators believe the shooter had “some resentment for having to go to that school.”
“We have a manifesto, we have some writings we’re going over that pertain to this day, the actual incident,” Drake stated at a press conference.
Testifying before an appropriations subcommittee, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked if Garland was considering launching a hate crime probe “for the targeting of Christians.”
The alleged Nashville school shooter, identified as Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, a transgender-identified woman, murdered six people at Nashville Christian School.
“Do you plan on opening a hate crime investigation for the targeting of Christians? Kennedy asked.
Garland replied the motive has not been established, which will determine if the community was a victim of a hate crime or not.
“The FBI and ATF are both on the scene working with the local police. As of now, motive has not been identified,” Garland said. “And the police chief said at the last press conference that they don’t [sic] yet reached a conclusion with respect to motive.”
“We are certainly working towards full time with them to try and determine what the motive is and of course what the motive is determines if there is a hate crime or not,” Garland explained.
Kennedy’s question comes after Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) demanded FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas initiate a “federal hate crime” probe into the massacre.
Hawley reasoned that it is a hate crime to “target” a particular religion with violence.
“Federal Law explicitly criminalizes violence against individuals based on religious affiliation as hate crimes,” Hawley wrote. “According to Nashville law enforcement, Hale’s attack was both premeditated and ‘targeted’ against this Christian school, its students, and employees.”
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.
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