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Nashville police say they’ve ‘exhausted all available investigative avenues’ into leak of school shooter’s writings

By Macie Goldfarb and Zoe Sottile, CNN

(CNN) — The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department says it has “exhausted all possible investigative avenues” in its efforts to track down the person responsible for leaking three photos of writings from the killer of three children and three adults at a private school in March.

The department announced the update in a Friday news release.

Police conducted interviews and examined electronic devices as part of their month-long investigation, which did not identify any current employees of the department or its partner agencies as having engaged in the unauthorized release of the images, the release says.

Images of the 28-year-old shooter’s writings were released online by a conservative political commentator in November, eight months after the deadly attack at Covenant School. The shooter was killed by police at the scene.

The leak of the images came amid an intense legal battle among groups who want evidence – including the shooter’s writings – released by authorities and parents of victims who said their release would cause further trauma.

The images show hate-filled language directed toward the Covenant School and children and include what seems to be a timeline of events leading up to the shooting.

The police department made attempts last month to interview a former detective who had images of the writings as part of his official duties, but he declined, according to the release. The department said it cannot “compel statements or cooperation from former employees.”

Police department employees previously placed on administrative leave pending the investigation have returned to their normal roles, the release added.

Two detectives from the department’s Specialized Investigations Unit took photos of the writings immediately after finding journals in the Covenant School shooter’s vehicle to gather information about the shooter, the investigation found. One detective took two of the photos while the other took one, according to the release.

The department will advance the investigation upon any new or undiscovered information, the release says.

Steven Crowder, the American-Canadian conservative commentator who released the images, previously told CNN affiliate WSMV that he did not regret sharing them online. Crowder, who has been accused of using homophobic and racist slurs in the past, said he released the pages for more transparency in the case.

The March 27 massacre triggered an intense monthslong legal battle. Both gun rights advocates and news organizations have sought the release of the shooter’s writings, which might shed light on the motive for the attack – and could include the shooter’s journals and a suicide note.

Those petitioning to have the writings released – including The Tennessean newspaper – say the documents are public records and that the First Amendment and the Tennessee Constitution grant public access to the records.

Alternately, the National Police Association and the Tennessee Firearms Association, who are also suing for the records, have argued lessons gleaned from the writings could benefit public safety by shedding light on the killer’s thinking.

But the parents of two of the three children who were killed have asked the court to deny Freedom of Information Act requests for the release of the shooter’s writings.

The church that runs the school also sought to prevent the records from being released, alongside many parents of students who fear the release could inspire “copycat attacks,” CNN has previously reported.

CNN’s Isabel Rosales, Devon M. Sayers and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.

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