Gunman Opens Fire On Gay-Friendly Church, Two Killed

Jim Burroway

July 27th, 2008

Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church crime sceneA lone man armed with a 12-gauge shotgun entered the sanctuary of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, just after 10:00 am this morning and opened fire, killing two people and wounding at least seven others before being subdued by members of the congregation.

Jim D. AdkissonPolice have arrested Jim D. Adkisson, 58, and charged him with first-degree murder. He is being held on a $1 million bond.

The attack occurred just as a youth performance was getting underway. There were about 200 people in the church when Adkisson opened fire. Congregants dove under pews and fled the sanctuary. When Adkisson paused to reload, several congregants overpowered him and held him until police arrived.

Greg McKendryOne of those killed was identified as Gregory McKendry Jr., 60, a church board member and usher. It appeared that Mr. McKendry may have been one of the first people Adkisson encountered when he entered the sanctuary. He is being remembered as a hero for shielding others from being hit by a shotgun blast. Mr. McKendry and his wife had recently taken in a 16-year-old foster son, who spoke to reporters three hours after the attack.

Another congregant, Linda Kraeger, 61, died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center a few hours later.

Of the seven who were injured, five are in serious or critical condition. Two were treated for minor injuries and released. None of the injured were children.

The church had recently put up a sign welcoming gays into the church. One of the goals of the church’s long range plan is to “increase congregational participation in human rights programs for gay/lesbian/transgendered persons.” The church hosts Knoxville’s Spectrum Café, a safe harbor for area high school youth who “self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender; who may be questioning their sexual or gender identity; who feel left out because of who they are, what they believe, or where they come from.” The church also hosts the Knoxville Monday Gay Men’s Group. There is some speculation among congregation members that this may have been a motivation.

See also:
Knoxville Gays On Edge; Local MCC Church Wants To See Letter
Relief Fund Set Up for Knoxville Churches
Thoughts and Prayers for Knoxville Shooting Victims
Knoxville Shooting Witness’s First-Hand Account
Knoxville Shooter Hated “Blacks, Gays, Anyone Different”
AFA Approved Comments: Knoxville Church Doing “Satan’s Work”
Knoxville Shooter Hated “Liberals,” Gays
Just Concluded: Knoxville Press Conference
Knoxville Shooter’s Manifesto Found
Gunman Opens Fire On Gay-Friendly Church, Two Killed


July 27th, 2008

It looks like the seeds of hate and bigotry have taken root and grown in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The people of this church will be in my thoughts and prayers.


July 27th, 2008

Hate has many targets. I understand that this church was involved in immigrant support activities as well. And the fact that they supported desegregation probably still rankles some of the diehards.

I will say that every day on my way to work I pass a major UUA church which is located right across from our statehouse, and when there have been gay issues before the legislature the church invariably flies a huge rainbow flag. It’s almost enough to bring me back to religion.


July 28th, 2008

I recently read that 4 in 5 protestants in England think that homosex is a sin. I think the number of gays that believe in invisible sky fairies was inverse to that. I wonder if the numbers are related.

Regan DuCasse

July 28th, 2008

Stay tuned to see if the FRC or FOTF will spin this as hate crime against Christians.
Several years ago, a gun man went into a Southern Baptist church in Texas and opened fire. He killed six and wounded eight. Two children were killed in that shooting. The shooter killed himself.
FOTF spun it as a hate crime against Christians, asserted that such crimes were INCREASING and that this country was at war (especially the liberal mindset) with Christianity and this shooting was proof of it.

What James Dobson left out, and what WAS clearly stated in the news articles subsequent to the shooting, was the murderer was anti Semitic. His diaries and plans for the shooting clearly spoke of his hatred for Jews and hostility at the church welcoming Jews.

The shooting was on the day that Southern Baptists set aside to try and convert Jews to Christianity.

So the shootings roots were hate based, but not for Christians, but Jews.
Hate crimes against Christians are so beyond the pale. And certainly it’s never Jews or gays who commit even any vandalism against churches.

That James Dobson would deceptively report the former tragedy and exploit it as a call to arms, so to speak, was despicable.
As soon as I saw what kind of church was targeted, I was certain it had more to do with the traditional welcoming UUC has for gay people. Before that, it was blacks and women. Especially in positions of ministers.

Since that is already on the wire, maybe the usual suspects won’t be able to exploit it, but I wouldn’t put it past them to try.

I’ve actually heard the most anti gay say that churches that DO welcome gay people, are NOT genuine Christians.

Jason D

July 28th, 2008

From what I’ve read, this may or many not be motivated by the church posting a welcome to gays and lesbians. The two events happened so close together that it’s possible, but not necessarily connected. He could just be crazy.

Bruce Garrett

July 28th, 2008

AP is reporting now that the Knoxville police chief is saying the letter found in Adkission’s car indicated a frustration over being out of work, and a hatred of the “liberal movement’. So far, that’s the only thing I’ve seen on the letter.


July 28th, 2008

It’s terrorism: An act of violence against a specific group or population. It won’t get reported as such, but it is nonetheless terrorism. And what the freepi and the fundies don’t seem to abosorb is that it was done by one of them! It was done by a freepy fundie against the liberals and gays that they hate.

Martin Lanigan

July 28th, 2008

My condolences to Greg McKendry’s family, Linda Kraeger’s family, and the entire community of Tennessee Valley UCC.

I have no words to describe my feelings towards the pseudo-christian anti-gay industry and how their rhetoric contributes to this insane hatred.


July 29th, 2009

But I thought these nutjobs were for freedom of religion?

Oh wait.. freedom of THEIR religion.

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