Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) believes the Nashville, Tennessee Christian school shooting, which left three children and three adults dead, should be investigated as a hate crime.
The Republican lawmaker emphasized that the "targeted" nature of the shooting makes it a federal hate crime against Christian children and teachers. He urged the use of all necessary federal resources and holding accountable those who spread hate against the Christian community, resulting in such violence.
"We should be clear about what happened in Nashville. Police say the shooting was ‘targeted,’" he wrote on Twitter. "That makes it a federal hate crime - against Christian children and teachers. Targeting victims on the basis of religious affiliation is a hate crime. It should be investigated as such."
"All federal resources necessary should be brought to bear," Hawley added. "And those individuals or groups who have spread a message of hate against the Christian community - which resulted here in horrific violence - should be held to account."
Hawley has requested the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to open a federal hate crime investigation into the Nashville school shooting. He wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, asking them to initiate the investigation.
"I urge you to immediately open an investigation into this shooting as a federal hate crime," Hawley wrote in his open letter on Tuesday.
An armed gunman attacked The Covenant School in Nashville on Monday, claiming six lives. The Covenant School is a private Christian institution for students up to sixth grade. The victims were identified by police, including three 9-year-olds, and three adults aged 60-61.
The shooter, Audrey Elizabeth Hale, a 28-year-old transgender Nashville resident, was a former student at the school.
Nashville police Chief John Drake said Hale possibly prepared for the shooting, having written a manifesto and drawn detailed maps of the school. The shooter was heavily armed with two AR-style weapons and a pistol, but was not wearing body armor.
In footage shared by the department, police officers Rex Englebert and Michael Collazo confronted and fatally shot Hale, ending the rampage.