As most of you are probably aware, yesterday during a church youth performance of “Annie”, a gunman opened fired at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, killing 2 and wounding 7. The first to be killed was Greg McKendry, a longtime church member and usher. McKendry stepped in front of the gunman and took the blast to protect those around him. The other victim, Linda Kraeger, died a few hours after the shooting. The gunman was tackled by John Bohstedt who was playing Daddy Warbucks in the musical and wrestled to the ground by other church members.
Jim D. Adkisson was arrested on the scene. Investigators believe that the congregation was targeted because of its support of liberal social policies. Adkisson had written a 4 page letter found in his vehicle. The police spokesperson commented that “it appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that and his stated hatred of the liberal movement.”
Our Unitarian Universalist sisters and brothers around the state are deeply committed to social justice and respect for human rights. TCASK works closely with Tennessee UU churches as many of their members are abolitionists and are active participants in the struggle to end the death penalty in Tennessee. The Unitarian Universalist Church has continually called for the abolition of the death penalty in its General Assemblies.
At this most difficult time for the people of Tennessee Valley UU, our thoughts and prayers are with them as they grieve these senseless deaths and begin to process what has occurred. The world continues to be a violent, unpredictable place, and I hope that the folks at Tennessee Valley UU can find some sense of peace in the aftermath of this tragedy through the love and prayers of so many around the state and the nation.
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