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Shooter Kills Two, Injures Seven at Gay-Affirming Knoxville Church

A gunman entered Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Sunday morning and opened fire, killing two and injuring seven others.

Church"Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen identified the man killed as 60-year-old Greg McKendry, an usher and longtime church member. A city official says another member of the congregation died later from injuries. The shooting occurred at approximately 10:15 a.m., while children were putting on the musical [Annie]. There were about 200 people in the church at the time."

Jim Adkisson of Powell, Tennessee, has been arrested and charged with first degree murder.

Tennessee's Out & About reports: "A member of the congregation wrote in a national blog that the church just recently put up a sign welcoming gays. One of the goals of the church's long range plan is to 'Increase congregational participation in human rights programs for gay/lesbian/transgendered persons.'...It is home to Knoxville’s Spectrum Café, which is a social gathering place for Knoxville area high school youth who support the principles of diversity, tolerance, and the worth and dignity of every human being. Teens who come to Spectrum respect each others' ideas, religious views, race, sexual orientations, abilities, and ethnic backgrounds. The group welcomes “self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or who are questioning their sexual or gender identity. The Knoxville Monday Gay Men’s Group meets at the church each Monday from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.”

AP clip on the shooting, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. guns and jesus, what a combo! something like hormones and lipstick i think 'cause it can have the same effect -- ask any drag queen on the street -- onward x-tian soldiers!

    Posted by: the queen | Jul 28, 2008 10:07:21 AM


  2. Live news conference on CNN confirms that the shooter was motivated by the church's liberal stance on homosexuality.

    Posted by: Scott | Jul 28, 2008 10:12:29 AM


  3. We are in that painful period when the bigots have realized they are losing and act out because of it.

    Posted by: PJ | Jul 28, 2008 10:36:51 AM


  4. Weird, though, they quote a neighbor who makes it sounds like he was anti-Christian.

    "I was telling him about my daughter graduating from Bible college and I was a Christian and stuff, and he just automatically almost turned angry," neighbor Karen Massey told WVLT-TV, a CNN affiliate."

    Strange to attack a UU Church if that was the case.

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Jul 28, 2008 10:40:13 AM


  5. And sure enough, CNN mostly downplays what the leader of the press conference said, and the reporters focused more on the shooter's "inability to get a job" and that he was "loosing his food stamps".

    Posted by: Scott | Jul 28, 2008 10:40:18 AM


  6. That's odd that he just figured out the Unitarians are gay-friendly - various affiliated churches have been performing same-sex unions since the 60s, making their stance public in 1984.

    Posted by: OY | Jul 28, 2008 10:41:48 AM


  7. That's odd that he just figured out the Unitarians are gay-friendly - various affiliated churches have been performing same-sex unions since the 60s, making their stance public in 1984.

    Posted by: OY | Jul 28, 2008 10:42:39 AM


  8. Thank you for including this incident. When I go, this is the church I attend, just blocks from my home. This church has been a community leader for the gay community, voicing support for glbt rights and offering meeting space for gay groups. Ironically, our church is vocal about abolishing the death penalty, something the prosecutor will certainly be laying on the table.

    Posted by: Tim | Jul 28, 2008 10:42:43 AM


  9. That's odd that he just figured out the Unitarians are gay-friendly - various affiliated churches have been performing same-sex unions since the 60s, making their stance public in 1984.

    Posted by: OY | Jul 28, 2008 10:42:43 AM


  10. That's odd that he just figured out the Unitarians are gay-friendly - various affiliated churches have been performing same-sex unions since the 60s, making their stance public in 1984.

    Posted by: OY | Jul 28, 2008 10:42:51 AM


  11. so according to cnn, he was a crazy old drifter who needed some good meds... socialized medicine anyone?

    Posted by: the queen | Jul 28, 2008 11:23:48 AM


  12. The day there are murders in a UU Church is the day that both the Christian and the GLBT community mourn as one. No matter your stance on Christianity in general, the UU Church is truly one of our most important allies. They have been courageously leading one of the hardest battles in this ongoing culture war- the battle to change the larger community of faith from the inside. For that they deserve our thanks.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with this congregation.

    Posted by: JeffRob | Jul 28, 2008 11:52:14 AM


  13. Slight clarification. Unitarians are not necessarily Christian. As our local congregation advertises 'where all beliefs are welcome'. Our family is Unitarian and decidedly not Christian. Best wishes to the Tennessee congregation and readers of Towleroad.

    Posted by: anne | Jul 28, 2008 12:29:41 PM


  14. Compared to other mass shootings, this isn't getting much press.

    Posted by: anon | Jul 28, 2008 1:27:40 PM


  15. Obama was right on when caught making the comment about the bitter turning to guns and religion.
    With conservatives in power now and for the last 8 years you'd think the gunman would make the connection between the economy and the right wing.
    My deepest sympathy to all friends, family and acquaintances of the departed and wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.
    I pray for the gunman, that he may have true remorse over this evil deed.

    Posted by: Ron Avila | Jul 29, 2008 12:22:06 PM


  16. Another failed human being who has to seek a scapegoat and blame 'liberals and gays' for his own failures in life. He is a bully, who cowardly guns down unarmed peaceful people in a church! Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

    For people unfamiliar with the peoples of the Appalachian regions of the US, he is a fairly common 'type'...an anglo-saxon/ celtic hybrid that genetically inbred- through generations of isolation- a militant, 'redneck' type of human being who is not culturally able to compete on the world stage in areas requiring talent, vision, or intellectual endeavors. A very mediocre bunch really, who are, in typical reactionary stance, lashing out against the rest of the world, now that their economy, factories are failing... not realizing they are the ones to blame for the fact they can't really compete, unless of course they are fighting, or waging war, or killing people in order to level the playing field the only way they know how.

    Posted by: Jayson | Jul 30, 2008 2:33:43 PM


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