Hatred motive for attack on UU Church

The man who attacked the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church during church services yesterday was said by local police to be motivated by hatred. The congregation’s web site says that they have already begun a healing process that will include a debriefing for those present at the shooting and a community candlelight vigil for those killed and injured.


A man who the police say entered a Unitarian church in Knoxville during Sunday services and shot 8 people, killing two, was motivated by a hatred for liberals and homosexuals, Chief Sterling P. Owen IV of the Knoxville Police Department said Monday.

“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,” Chief Owen said of the suspect, Jim D. Adkisson, 58. “We have recovered a four-page letter in which he describes his feelings and the reason that he claims he committed these offenses.”

The Knoxville News Sentinel:

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.

Jim D. 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.

According to the congregation’s website, there will be a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing for members of the congregation most directly affected by the tragedy and a community candlelight service later today.

The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church thanks you for your thoughts and prayers and many expressions of support. As you might imagine, we are only beginning the process of accepting and grieving this tragedy. Our process continues this evening with a series of events, beginning at 5 p.m. with a debriefing for those members and friends of our community who were most directly affected by the shooting. We respectfully ask that the larger Knoxville community respect the privacy of these individuals and not attend these debriefing sessions, so that the survivors of this traumatic event might begin the work of healing.

We want to welcome the Knoxville community to our candlelight service at 7:30, and thank you for your solidarity and support for our congregation.

Please hold the congregation and community in your prayers.

Other stories are found here, here and here.

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