(LifeSiteNews) — U.S. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri on Tuesday called on the Biden administration’s FBI and Department of Homeland Security to open a hate crime investigation into the horrific Monday shooting at a Nashville, Tennessee, Christian school carried out by a 28-year-old woman who identified as transgender.
In a letter addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Hawley cited statements from the Nashville Metro Police indicating that the brutal shooting at private Christian Covenant School, which left three nine-year-old children and three school staff members dead, had been a “targeted” attack.
I am calling on FBI Director Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas to open a federal hate crime investigation into the massacre in Nashville – targeting a Christian school 👇 pic.twitter.com/IvzrJUY2ZH
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 28, 2023
“It is commonplace to call such horrors ‘senseless violence,’” Hawley said in his letter to Wray and Mayorkas. “But properly speaking, that is false. Police report that the attack here was ‘targeted’ — targeted, that is, against Christians.”
Police have identified 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a woman who reportedly “identified” as a man, as the perpetrator of the Monday shooting rampage, LifeSiteNews previously reported.
The three children who were killed have been identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, the youngest daughter of Chad Scruggs, senior pastor at Nashville’s Covenant Presbyterian Church. School custodian Mike Hill, 61, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61, and head of school Katherine Koonce, 60, were also slain.
The threat was eliminated by Nashville police who shot and killed Hale within minutes of arriving on scene. The officers have been praised for their quick response.
The killings took place ahead of a planned “Transgender Day of Vengeance” set to take place in Washington, D.C. The group organizing the event also reportedly urged protests in Nashville — where the conservative Daily Wire is headquartered — and even promoted firearms training for protection against alleged anti-transgender violence. The event is meant to resist laws like the one recently signed in Tennessee banning mutilating transgender interventions for minors. It’s unknown whether Hale had any connection to the group.
In his letter, Hawley pointed out that “acts of violence against individuals based on religious affiliation” are considered “hate crimes” under federal law.
“According to Nashville law enforcement, Hale’s attack was both premeditated and ‘targeted’ against this Christian school, its students and employees,” he continued.
The Republican senator pointed to a statement by Nashville Police Chief John Drake, who said his department has obtained “a manifesto, we have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this date, the actual incident,” including “a map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.”
Hawley also referenced remarks from detectives who suggested the shooter harbored “some resentment for having to go to that school.”
In conclusion, the Missouri lawmaker issued a call for the heads of the federal agencies 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,” Hawley said.
“Hate that leads to violence must be condemned,” he said. “And hate crimes must be prosecuted.”
Hawley’s letter comes after the U.S. senator previously grilled the head of the Biden administration’s Department of Justice, Merrick Garland, over an alleged bias by the DOJ against Catholics and “other people of faith.”
The senator made the accusations in a fiery March 1 hearing in which he slammed the DOJ for the guns-drawn FBI raid against pro-life Catholic husband and father Mark Houck, as well as the since-retracted Richmond, Virginia FBI memo directing surveillance resources to be used against “radical traditionalist Catholics.”
While Garland sought to defend the FBI’s raid on Houck, he agreed the memo targeting certain “traditionalist” Catholics was “appalling,” though he couldn’t say whether or not any FBI informants are embedded within U.S. Catholic churches.
“You don’t know the specifics of anything, it seems, but apparently on your watch, this Justice Department is targeting Catholics, targeting people of faith, specifically for their faith views,” Hawley argued. “And Mr. Attorney General, I’ll just say to you: It’s a disgrace.”
It remains to be seen whether the federal agencies will agree to Hawley’s call to investigate the Nashville massacre as a hate crime.
The Biden administration has largely focused on calling for more gun control measures in response to the shooting.