Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called on federal authorities Tuesday to investigate Monday’s massacre at The Covenant School in Nashville as a hate crime against Christian believers.
In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Hawley described Audrey Hale’s rampage through the Tennessee school that left three adults and three 9-year-old children dead as a “targeted” assault “against Christians” and called for “the full resources of the federal government” to be deployed to determine why the 28-year-old former student carried out the heinous crime.
“It is commonplace to call such horrors ‘senseless violence.’ But properly speaking, that is false,” Hawley writes. “Police report that the attack here was ‘targeted’ — targeted, that is, against Christians.”
“I urge you to immediately open an investigation into this shooting as a federal hate crime. The full resources of the federal government must be brought to bear to determine how this crime occurred, and who may have influenced the deranged shooter to carry out these horrific crimes. Hate that leads to violence must be condemned. And hate crimes must be prosecuted,” the Missouri Republican added.
Federal law considers violence that causes bodily injury to a person to be a hate crime if it is motivated by race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
In 2021, Hawley was the sole member of the upper chamber to vote against a bill intended to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans, which surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hawley criticized the legislation as “too broad.”
Nashville police have not determined a motive behind the shooting, but have said that once inside the private religious school, Hale gunned down victims at “random.”
Nashville Police Chief John Drake has also indicated that “resentment” over having to attend The Covenant School may have played a role in the shooting.
The shooter, who was born female but identified as transgender, was shot and killed by police within minutes of their arrival.