Shooting at UU Church in Tennessee

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Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity on accused shooter’s reading list

Police found right-wing political books, brass knuckles, empty shotgun shell boxes and a handgun in the Powell home of a man who said he attacked a church in order to kill liberals “who are ruining the country,” court records show. Knoxville police Sunday evening searched the Levy Drive home of Jim David Adkisson after he allegedly entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and killed two people and wounded six others during the presentation of a children’s musical. Knoxville Police Department Officer Steve Still requested the search warrant after interviewing Adkisson. who was subdued by several church members after firing three rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun into the congregation.

Adkisson targeted the church, Still wrote in the document obtained by WBIR-TV, Channel 10, “because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets.” Adkisson told Still that “he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office.” Adkisson told officers he left the house unlocked for them because “he expected to be killed during the assault.” Inside the house, officers found “Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder” by radio talk show host Michael Savage, “Let Freedom Ring” by talk show host Sean Hannity, and “The O’Reilly Factor,” by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly. The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday’s mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of “the liberal movement,” and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.

Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his “hatred of the liberal movement,” Owen said. “Liberals in general, as well as gays.” Adkisson said he also was frustrated about not being able to obtain a job, Owen said. The letter, recovered from Adkisson’s black 2004 Ford Escape, which was parked in the church’s parking lot at 2931 Kingston Pike, indicates he had been planning the shooting for about a week. “He fully expected to be killed by the responding police,” the police chief said. Owen said Adkisson specifically targeted the church for its beliefs, rather than a particular member of the congregation.

“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. Owen said Adkisson’s stated hatred of the liberal movement was not necessarily connected to any hostility toward Christianity or religion per say, but rather the political advocacy of 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. Adkisson does not appear to be a member of any church himself, Owen said.

“In his written statement, he does not ascribe to any affiliation,” the chief said. “It does not appear he’s a member of any organized group.” Officers recovered 76 shells for a 12-gauge, semiautomatic shotgun inside the church. Among those shells were three spent rounds. He had carried the shotgun inside the church in a guitar case, Owen said. “He certainly intended to take a lot of casualties,” the chief said. Adkisson is accused of killing two people and injuring seven others. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Greg McKendry, 60. Also killed in the shooting was Linda Kraeger, 61, who was visiting the church from Westside Unitarian Universalist Church.

Injured were Joe Barnhart, 76, and Jack Barnhart, 69, who are brothers; 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. At about 10:25 a.m., two staffers from Second Presbyterian Church next door, placed a large flower arrangement from their church’s sanctuary atop TVUUC’s sign along Kingston Pike. “Our hearts go out to this church. This is our community. We love these people,” said Julie Lothrop, assistant to the pastor. The shooting began at 10:18 a.m. Adkisson was arrested minutes later after being restrained by church members. Three of those wounded remain in critical or serious condition at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Two others were treated at a local hospital and released. One of those suffered an injury when trampled as worshippers left the church.

The letter was not addressed to anyone but was signed by Adkisson, Owen said.

Adkisson’s criminal history includes a DUI in Calfornia and in Clinton. He had been a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne, according to Owen. Public Defender Mark Stephens’ office has been appointed to represent Adkisson. Through a spokeswoman this morning, Stephens said he could not comment. If the suspect’s own resume is accurate, Owen said, Adkisson worked in a variety of places across the country and most recently worked in Knoxville in 2006. The chief did not specify where Adkisson last held a job. Adkisson also holds an associates degree in mechanical engineering. More than 200 people were packed into the church’s sanctuary watching the children’s musical, “Annie Jr.” when a gunman opened fire.

McKendry, according to witnesses and police, confronted Adkisson, who shot him with a 12-gauge shotgun. Witness Barbara Kemper said Adkisson walked past the area where children were awaiting their stage call and into the sanctuary. Witnesses said Adkisson did not aim the shotgun at children but focused on the pews filled with adults. The first blast left many wondering if the disabling boom was part of the musical program. “We heard the first shot,” said Marty Murphy, 66, a church member since 2000. “It sounded like a bomb went off. We thought it was part of the program at first. “The second shot is when everyone started calling 911 and telling everyone to get down.” Murphy and others said Adkisson didn’t say a thing before he began firing. Kemper, however, said Adkisson was yelling “something hateful.”

Witnesses said Adkisson had a fanny pack around his waist that contained extra shells for his shotgun. “There were shotgun shells all over the place, so he must have thought he was going to get more shots in,” Murphy said. “He had those shells everywhere. “Who would have thought, here in Knoxville?” she said.

News Sentinel staff writers Bob Fowler, J.J. Stambaugh, Frank Munger and Amy McRary contributed to this story.
More details as they develop online and in Tuesday’s News Sentinel.
News Sentinel staff writers Bob Fowler, J.J. Stambaugh, Frank Munger and Amy McRary contributed to this story.

and his commentators are likely correct when they say the UU Church will not play up or otherwise draw attention to the anti-liberal hate crime that this shooting in Tennessee represents. But this is the Republican agenda of hate, fear, and racial and gender-orientation baiting rising to the surface. There will, alas, be copycat crimes. This guy even left his door unlocked, so that the police could come in, shoot him, and make him a martyr for the conservative cause.

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One comment

  1. It’s not the Republican agenda, but the Globalist agenda….this will be used by the power elite to further reinforce their illusory left-right paradigm. We have to remember that the Republican and Democratic parties, at least in their leaderships, are merely the left and right hands of a single entity. The Bushes, father and son, the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, McCain, Obama…..they are all of them cut from the same cloth and represent the exact same interests, the Globalist agenda, the erosion of national sovereignty, the dismemberment of our Constitutional Republic and the imposition of supranational governance and martial law.

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