Man charged in alleged threat against journalist seeking Nashville shooter manifesto
CEO of The Star News Network, Michael Patrick Leahy, is involved in a public records lawsuit to release the manifesto of the Nashville school shooter.
A Tennessee man has been charged in connection with a threat against conservative journalist and talk radio show host Michael Patrick Leahy over Leahy's lawsuit to obtain the Nashville school shooter manifesto, allegedly telling Leahy, "I'm willing to go to prison to end you."
Leahy, CEO of The Star News Network, and the network’s parent company, Star News Digital Media Inc., are involved in a lawsuit to release the manifesto of transgender person Audrey Hale, who killed three students and three faculty members in March at a Nashville Christian school Hale had attended.
The person charged in connection with the death threat over the lawsuit, Michael Alonzo Rouse, 49, threatened Leahy July 9 via email, according to a source familiar with the matters.
In the email obtained by Just the News and signed by “Mike,” the writer says, "Michael Patrick Leahy ... if it were not illegal to beat your ass up ... I'd have done it months ago. I have called your show twice because you decided to pound home the transgender Audrey Hale while people who suffered were healing. You dirty potato eating Mick. If I see you on the street ... I'm going to end your conservative slant eye ass.”
The email also reads: “I'm willing to go to prison to end you. You dirty drug addict eyed Irish fool. You either end your talk show or I'll end your life in real time while you do it. You have no right to the manifesto of Audrey Hale and you just want content by obtaining it.”
The final line of the email, before the signature reads: “Send the authorities. You'd better if you still want to live, Leahy.”
Williamson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to Just the News that a misdemeanor summons for harassment was issued July 10 for Rouse. An arrest warrant was issued for him the following day for aggravated stalking, which is a felony when the victim is over the age of 65. Rouse was arrested the evening of July 11 and charged in connection with the alleged crimes.
The sheriff’s office told Just the News that Rouse's bond was set at $7,500. He posted the bond Wednesday and has a Sept. 7 court date in connection with the alleged crimes, according to court documents.
Rouse did not answer calls for a request to comment.
Journalists and others have tried since the mass shooting to get authorities to release the manifesto and related documents to learn more about the tragedy.
Authorities in early April indicated: "In the collective writings by Hale found in her vehicle in the school parking lot, and others later found in the bedroom of her home, she documented, in journals, her planning over a period of months to commit mass murder at The Covenant School."
The FBI and Nashville police have refused to release the writings to the public and have denied requests from media outlets to do so, claiming the investigation into the shooting is ongoing and will take up to a year, despite local law enforcement asserting that Hale acted alone.
The Covenant Presbyterian Church that operates the school, the school itself, and an unspecified group of parents have also sought to block the release of the documents.
Parents of the children who were killed are among them, with one mother writing to the court in a filing, “These petitioners have shown no respect or regard for my family or for the hundreds of surviving Covenant trauma victims, even going so far as to shamefully deny their victimhood before you, as they seek to publish and profit from the deranged, hateful, and exceedingly dangerous ramblings of an individual who renounced her humanity and gunned down children.”
Four Nashville private schools have also asked to file amicus briefs in the case, arguing that “the safety and security of” their schools “likely will be directly and distinctly impacted by the disclosure of documents sought by Petitioners.”
Hale’s parents, Ronald and Norma Hale, claim intestate possession of their daughter's documents, and have argued that they have the right to provide any party they see fit ownership of the materials. They also said they would give those materials to the children who attended the school. Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, told The Tennessee Star that whoever makes Hale’s manifesto public could face a lawsuit.
The Tennessee Firearms Association and the National Police Association are also involved in the lawsuit against the Metro Nashville Police Department and seek the release of the manifesto.
John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, told The Tennessee Star, which is part of The Star News Network, that according to state public records law, documents possessed by a government entity are open to the public.
Harris told Leahy on Tuesday that the lawsuit could continue until 2026, depending on how appeals go.