Unitarian Universalism Archive

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Man to spend life behind bars for deadly shooting rampage at Unitarian Church

Church shooter pleads guilty; letter released Adkisson to spend life behind bars for crimes

[Jim David] Adkisson pleaded guilty Monday in Knox County Criminal Court to a deadly shooting rampage at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, the Kingston Pike home of what the 58-year-old Powell man deemed “ultra liberals” and “foot soldiers” for the powers-that-be in the liberal movement.

He will spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing Greg McKendry, 60, and Linda Lee Kraeger, 61, after opening fire with a sawed-off shotgun inside the church where more than 200 people were gathered to watch a children’s musical. He admitted wounding six others.

During Monday’s hearing, Adkisson said little to explain his actions. After the hearing, however, he released to the News Sentinel a copy of the manifesto and would-be suicide letter he penned before the rampage.

It paints a portrait of angry fatalism by a former soldier, accomplished guitarist, failed husband and out-of-work mechanic.

“Over the years, I’ve had some good jobs, but I always got layed (sic) off,” he wrote. “Now I’m 58 years old and I can’t get a decent job. I’m told I’m ‘over qualified,’ which is a code word for ‘too damned old,’ like I’m expected to age gracefully in poverty. No thanks! I’m done.”

After lamenting the ills of liberalism and Democrats, Adkisson explains why he specifically targeted TVUUC, which he once attended with his now-ex-wife.

“Don’t let the word church mislead you,” he wrote. “This isn’t a church, it’s a cult. They don’t even believe in God. They worship the God of secularism. … The UU church is the fountainhead, the veritable wellspring of anti-American organizations.”

He hints at a more personal motivation.

“They embrace every pervert that comes down the pike, but if they find out your (sic) a conservative, they absolutely hate you,” he wrote. “I know. I experienced it.”

The letter offers no other detail about his experience.

– Source: Church shooter pleads guilty; letter released, Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News Sentinel (Tennessee), Feb. 10, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

Police: Man shot churchgoers over liberal views

Police: Man shot churchgoers over liberal views

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire at a Unitarian church, killing two people, left behind a note suggesting that he targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal policies, including its acceptance of gays, authorities said Monday.

A four-page letter found in Jim D. Adkisson’s small SUV indicated he intentionally targeted the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church because, the police chief said, “he hated the liberal movement” and was upset with “liberals in general as well as gays.”

Adkisson, a 58-year-old truck driver on the verge of losing his food stamps, had 76 rounds with him when he entered the church and pulled a shotgun from a guitar case during a children’s performance of the musical “Annie.”

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported Monday that Adkisson may also have chosen the church because his ex-wife was a former longtime member of the congregation.

He remained jailed Monday on $1 million bond after being charged with one-count of murder. More charges are expected. Four victims were hospitalized in critical condition.

The attack Sunday morning lasted only minutes. But the anger behind it may have been building for months, if not years.

“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 for the liberal movement,” Police Chief Sterling Owen said.

Adkisson was a loner who hates “blacks, gays and anyone different from him,” longtime acquaintance Carol Smallwood of Alice, Texas, told the newspaper.

– Source: Police: Man shot churchgoers over liberal views, Duncan Mansfield, AP, July 29, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog