Monday, July 28, 2008

Church Shooting in Tennessee Hits Home

Yesterday, around 2 p.m. I heard a report on NPR that 7 people had been shot at a Unitarian Universalist Chuch. I was working, and I did not catch the full story, but , having grown up a Unitarian, and knowing that there are aren't many UU churches, I rushed to the computer found out what church they were talking about. ...Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tenn.

My friend Kim Kredich, who founded Triathlonmoms (the predecessor to TRIgirl Training) and her husband Matt Kredich, TriMom's swim coach (and the swim coach formerly at UR) are members of that church. Our children are roughly the same age. When they lived here, they went to "First Church", or First Unitarian Chuch of Richmond. Kim was always involved with the children's performances here, and even lead and inclusive kids orchestra, for any child who wanted to make music.

Fragmented news reports kept coming in:

7 people injured.... Some with severe head wounds. ....Man pulled out a
shotgun....during a children's performance....1 now dead. 2 now dead.

I called a mutual friend. She didn't know anything.
Finally, I got off of work and called Kim and Matt's house. A message on their machine stated that they were safe. And, a wave of relief ran over me. Because you don't realize how special Kim and Matt are. They are amazing people. The kind of folks who draw others in with their positive energy and magnetism. They are just the best, kindest, most resilient people. And, they are safe.

But, not everyone was. The Washington Post Reports:

A burly usher, 60-year-old Greg McKendry, was hailed as a hero for shielding
others from gunfire as other church members rushed to wrestle the gunman to
the ground. Police arrived at 10:21 a.m., three minutes after getting the
911 call and arrested Adkisson.
No children were hurt, but eight people were shot,
including the two who died _ McKendry and Linda Kraeger, 61.
When the first shot rang out at the rear of the sanctuary, many church
members thought it might be part of the play or a glitch in the public
address system. Some laughed before turning around to see the shooter and
his first victims covered in blood.
A four-page letter found in Jim D. Adkisson's SUV indicated that he targeted
the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church because "he hated the
liberal movement" and was upset with "liberals in general, as well as gays,"
according to Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV. Adkisson, 58, had
a shotgun and 76 shells with him when he entered the church Sunday during a
children's performance of the musical "Annie." Six adults were wounded in the
attack. Owen said the letter indicated that Adkisson did not expect to leave
the church alive.

The Washington Post quoted the pastor in an op-ed piece in the local paper as bringing the church's liberal views to the forefront of the community.

"In the midst of political and religious controversy, I choose to love my
neighbors as myself," Buice [the minister] wrote in an op-ed piece published in March.
"Ultimately, I believe that tolerance, compassion and respect are the qualities
we need to keep Knoxville and East Tennessee beautiful."

Thank God for the bravery of the people who jumped the guy.

Update: I just found out that Kim and Matt and the boys were not at church at all on Sunday. A blessing for them. But does not change the facts in this crazy shooting.


Sarah said...

I heard about this, very sad! I am so glad that your friends are safe. What a tragedy.

Steve Stenzel said...

I heard about this on the news. I'd glad your friends were OK. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones...