Knoxville, Tennessee (WiredPRNews.com) — A gunman opened fire on Sunday at a church youth performance, killing two people including a man who shielded others’ lives from the shotgun blasts. Seven adults and no children were injured at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Several members of the congregation tackled the gunman and held him until he came under police custody.
Jim D Adkisson, 58, has been charged with first degree murder and was held on a bail of $1 million. Greg McKendry, 60, was a long time member and usher of the church. He stood to face the shots of the gunman and took it upon himself to protect his peers. Linda Kreager, 61, died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center only hours after the shooting. Five people were hospitalized with serious and critical conditions, while two others were treated and later released.
The motive of the gunman is not yet known. Like other Unitarian Universalist churches, this church promotes social work like fighting for women’s and gays’ rights and desegregation. The congregation has service sanctuary for political refugees and has founded the chapter of American Civil Liberties Union and feeds the homeless. Kemper, a church member, said that the man shouted and said hateful things before firing. There were around 200 people at the church when the shooting took place.
One of the church members said that his wife saw he gunman pull a shotgun from a guitar case. The witnesses heard three blasts from the 12-gauge shotgun which spreads pellets when it leaves the barrel. Church members said that John Bohstedt tackled the gunman.
McKendry’s friends said that he was extremely friendly with all and was a gentleman. He stood up at the time of the shooting and placed himself between the congregation and the shooter. He and his wife had recently taken in a foster child. The minister of the church was on vacation to North Carolina when the shooting took place.
Wired News Reporter