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Posts for February, 2009

Knoxville Shooter’s Manifesto Made Public

Jim Burroway

February 14th, 2009

Jim David Adkisson, the gunman who opened fire in a Knoxville, Tennessee church killing two and injuring seven others, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars for his July 27, 2008 rampage at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

During the course of the investigation, it was revealed that Adkisson left a hand-written manifesto in his pickup truck in which, according to police, he expressed “hatred of the liberal movement, Liberals in general, as well as gays.” Despite public calls for police to release the text of the letter, police kept it private as the investigation continued.

After last week’s sentencing hearing, Adkisson released the four-page letter to the Knoxville News Sentinel which posted it on its web site earlier this week. In the letter, which Adkisson intended to be a suicide note, he made clear that he hated all things “liberal”:

Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them. Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather.

I’d like to encourage other like minded people to do what I’ve done. If life ain’t worth living anymore don’t just kill yourself. do [sic] something for your Country before you go. Go Kill Liberals.

Tell the cop that killed me I said, “Thanks. I needed that!”

Adkisson was also clear that he considered his actions a hate crime. He made a special point in explaining that by emphasizing his hatred of “damn left-wing Liberals.” He also described his rampage as a “political act.” Matthew David Chamberlain, a 47-year-old nonviolent sex offender who shared a cell with Adkisson, told the News Sentinel, “He said if he got out (of prison), he’d do it again.”

In Adkisson’s letter, he listed all of the news networks that he believes are destroying America. His list included all major national broadcasters. Fox News was noticeably absent from the list. Adkisson also said he wanted to kill all Democrats in the House and Senate, as well as everyone listed in Bernard Goldberg’s book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37). But since he judged them to be inaccessible, he decided to go after “the foot soldiers” attending the Unitarian Universalist church that Sunday instead:

Don’t let the word church mislead you. This isn’t a church, it’s a cult. They don’t even believe in God. They worship the God of Secularism. These sick people aren’t Liberals, they’re Ultra-Liberals. This is a collection of sicko’s, weirdo’s + homo’s. [sic] The UU church is the Fountainhead, the veritable wellspring of anti-American organizations like Moveon.org, Code Pink, and other un-American groups.

Those people are absolute Hypocrits. [sic] They embrace every pervert that comes down the pike, but if they find out your [sic] a conservative, they absolutely Hate you.

… I’d like someone to do an exposé on this church, it’s a den of un-American vipers. They call themselves “Progressive.” How is a white woman having a niger [sic] baby progressive? How is a man sticking his dick up another man’s ass progressive?

Reading this screed reminds me of some of the more entertaining comments we’ve collected on this web site, as well as some of the more colorful emails I’ve received on a few occasions. Yes, they are out there, and they’re not as uncommon as you might think. Consider just about any comment left on the WorldNetDaily web site, or even this comment on the Sentinel’s web site:

Ya know, with the exception of killing people, which is wrong under any circumstance, even liberals, he’s pretty much right. This so-called liberal movement will destroy the American way of life. Liberals hate America and are extremely dangerous to our freedoms and liberty. Mark my words, check back here in a couple years, if this Obama-Nation has not yet utterly destroyed itself, so I can say I told you so.

The full text of Adkisson’s manifesto is after the jump.

Knoxville Shooter To Receive Life Prison Term

Jim Burroway

February 5th, 2009

Jim David Adkisson, the man who opened fire at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee and killed two people, will receive two concurrent life sentences without parole for each of the two slayings in exchange for a guilty plea. Adkisson will also receive concurrent 25-year prison terms for six counts of attempted murder.

On July 27, 2008, Adkisson walked into the church carrying a shotgun he head hidden in a guitar case and opened fire. A children’s performance of the musical “Annie Jr.” was just getting started when Adkisson began firing indiscriminately. Greg McKendry, 60, was the first to confront Adkisson, and he was killed instantly. Also killed was Linda Kraeger, 61, who was a visitor to the church. Church members were able to wrestle Adkisson.

During the investigation following the shooting, police found a manifestoin Adkisson’s truck in which, according to police, he expressed “hatred of the liberal movement, Liberals in general, as well as gays.” Despite calls to release the letter, it hasn’t been publicly released.

Knoxville Gays On Edge; Local MCC Church Wants To See Letter

Jim Burroway

July 31st, 2008

Rev. Bob Galloway of Knoxville’s Metropolitan Community Church wants to know what’s in Jim David Adkisson’s letter. He says that his parishoners won’t feel safe unless they know why the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was targeted:

The more clarity, the better,” Galloway said. “We need to know what we’re dealing with. Is it just liberals he was targeting? Is it just gays? Was it all these things mixed together? We need to know.”

Galloway said his church serves about 180 people from around East Tennessee, about 85 percent of them gay or lesbian. Some members made a U-turn for home Sunday morning when they heard of a shooting at a liberal, gay-friendly church. “They thought it was us,” Galloway said.

Meanwhile, nine local Knoxville bands will hold a benefit at a local club on Friday evening, and TVUUC has set next Sunday for its rededication and reconsecration service. Members of the Unitarian Universalist Association Trauma Response Ministry who were sent to Knoxville will be on hand before and after the service.

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

Relief Fund Set Up For Knoxville Churches

Jim Burroway

July 30th, 2008

A relief fund has been set up by the Boston-based Unitarian Universalist Association as more than a hundred Unitarian Universalist congregations hold special services this week in memory of the shooting Sunday at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville.

Funds raised by the UUA will be used to bring “ministry, spiritual care and practical financial assistance to those affected by the tragedy,” according to a UUA statement, and will go to assist Tennessee Valley as well as Westside Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, where several victims attended. Members of both congregations were together last Sunday to view a children’s musical performance. Greg McKendry was an usher at TVUUC, and Linda Kraeger was a member of Westside UUC. Both were killed in Sunday’s shooting.

Contributions to the fund can be made at UUA.org.

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

Thoughts and Prayers for Knoxville Shooting Victims

Jim Burroway

July 29th, 2008

Flowers and notes

Memorial at Second PresbyterianThe community of Knoxville is pausing to remember and pray for the victims and their families from Sunday’s shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Knoxville area residents of all faiths and creeds (like Tom McCosh, from the Lighthouse Christian Fellowship in Madisonville, TN, above) have been leaving flowers and notes at the church’s entrance. The sign at the entrance has become a makeshift memorial to Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger, the two fatalities from Sunday’s shooting.

The Knox County Commission opened its Monday meeting with a moment of silence, followed by an invocation by Gary Weedman, president of Johnson Bible College, who prayed, “We lift up these brave people who acted so courageously and lovingly.” Commissioner Mark Harmon, a member of the church, talked about the heroes of that Sunday morning.

The community came together on Monday evening for a candlelight vigil in the sanctuary of the Second Presbyterian Church, which stands adjacent to TVUUC. Congregants who survived the Sunday shooting gathered earlier that evening to meet with crisis counsellors, while volunteers from Temple Beth El and Heska Amuna synagogues provided food.

First Baptist memorial serviceAnd today, more than 150 people attended an ecumenical service at First Baptist Church of Knoxville at noon today, where two candle were lit on the church in memory of Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger. St. John’s Lutheran Church will hold a service of hope and healing this evening, while the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee offered its crisis response team to TVUUC church members to help deal with the shootings.

We join our thoughts and prayers with the community of Knoxville for those who were so deeply affected by this tragedy.

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

Knoxville Shooting Witness’s First-Hand Account

Jim Burroway

July 29th, 2008

Via Out and About Newspapers:

The Annie character was just finishing “Maybe”. I was thinking, “this is really good.” The Miss Hannigan character walked in stage left and slapped a basket Annie was holding out of her hand. From the sanctuary right entrance, I thought I hear yelling and a loud BOOM of an explosion.

My mind tried to register the sound. I was thinking, “Did a speaker explode? Did I hear a prop gun? Did something go wrong?” and as soon as that thought left my mind I smelled the sulfur from the gunpowder and heard another BOOM and then BOOM. I left go of Jaime’s hand and stepped around the corner just as John Bohstedt tackled the shooter. Immediately two others were on top of him.

Read the rest here.

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

Knoxville Shooter Hated “Blacks, Gays, Anyone Different”

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2008

Jim D. AdkissonMore details continue to emerge about Jim David Adkisson, the Knoxville shooter responsible for killing two and injuring seven at the gay-affirming Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church yesterday. The Knoxville News Sentinal, which is doing quite a bang-up job in covering this story, has more from people who know him:

“He always had the attitude the government was trying to get him,” [Carold] Smallwood said. “He disliked blacks, gays, anyone who was a different color or just different from him.”

Smallwood also described Adkisson as an accomplished guitarist with “a heart of gold when he’s good.” Adkisson carried the 12-guage shotgun into the church hidden in a guitar case.

It has also been revealed that Adkisson’s ex-wife had taken out a restraining order against him in 2000 after he put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. She filed for divorce a few days after the incident.

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

Knoxville Shooter Hated “Liberals,” Gays

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2008

AdkissonWe have more information on the letter that was found in Jim David Adkisson’s car. According to Police chief Sterling Owen, Adkisson wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his “hatred of the liberal movement. Liberals in general, as well as gays.” It’s that last point that’s receiving particular attention from the Knoxville News Sentinel:

It appears that church had received some publicity regarding its liberal stance,” the chief said. The church has a “gays welcome” sign and regularly runs announcements in the News Sentinel about meetings of the Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays meetings at the church.

The church’s Web site states that it has worked for “desegregation, racial harmony, fair wages, women’s rights and gay rights” since the 1950s. Current ministries involve emergency aid for the needy, school tutoring and support for the homeless, as well as a cafe that provides a gathering place for gay and lesbian high-schoolers.

Greg McKendry, 60, and Linda Kraeger, 61, were killed in the attacked. Injured were Joe Barnhart, 76; Jack Barnhart, 69; Betty Barnhart, 71; Linda Chavez, 41; John Worth Jr., 68; Tammy Sommers, 38; and Allison Lee, 42. Jack and Joe Barnhart are brothers, and Jack and Betty Barnhart are married.

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

Just Concluded: Knoxville Press Conference

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2008

Jim D. AdkissonKnoxville police chief  Sterling Owen has just concluded a press conference, in which he provided a few additional details about yesterday’s mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

According to Chief Owen, Jim David Adkisson had spent at least a week planning the attack, based on the four-page letter that was recovered from Adkisson’s vehicle. The shotgun was purchased about a month ago. The police spokesman said that Adkisson was frustrated over not being able to find an job, and that he “hated the liberal movement.” Owen targeted TVUUC because of some “recent publicity” the church had received regarding its “liberal stance on things,” but he would not provide any further details. They are investigating the crime as a possible hate crime.

Chief Owen credited the actions of church members who tacked the shooter, saying that they saved many lives. It appeared the shooter wanted to kill as many people as possible and did not expect to leave the church alive. Two congregants were killed in the attack. Five remain hospitalized; four are in critical condition and one serious.

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

Knoxville Shooter’s Manifesto Found

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2008

AdkissonKnoxville police say that they found a multi-page, handwritten letter in the car of Jim David Adkisson, the mass shooter at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church Sunday morning. Police aren’t releasing the contents of the letter, which they say provides evidence of the shooter’s motives. A police department investigator has briefed Knox County Criminal Court Judge Kenneth Irvine Jr. on the letter.

The investigator also told Irvine that in a subsequent interview, Adkisson said he entered the church Sunday morning with the intent of killing everyone inside. He denied having specifically targeted any children. Witnesses report that he was saying “hateful words” as he fired. Witnesses and police so far are not commenting on a possible motive, but they say that Adkisson had no apparent connection with the church.

Some 200 people were in the sanctuary when the gunman opened fire. A children’s musical play had just begun at the start of Sunday services. Two people were killed and seven wounded. Greg McKendry, 60, was killed when he confronted Adkisson. Also killed was Linda Kraeger, 61, who was visiting to see the musical.

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

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.

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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