Yesterday a 58 year old man entered a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee and started shooting. Children were performing a musical at the time, but no children were physically injured. Seven people were injured, two of them died. One of the dead had reportedly placed herself between the attacker and the children on stage. A few others tackled him and held him on the ground until the police arrived. According to the news he was motivated by his dislike for “the liberal movement” and his inability to land a job.
This gives me the heebie-jeebies. I spent a week in the woods with a bunch of Unitarians. At one point some campers from another area were target practicing on the hill above us. None of us felt like we were in danger, but it did break the tranquility of the week briefly. Had this story broken a week earlier, it might have rattled some nerves. I never thought of the Unitarians as an identity group. I think it’s been about three years since I actually attended a service.
This guy thinks it should be regarded as an incident of terror – the motive apparently being political. But I think of terrorism as a calculated act aimed to promote a particular political agenda by intimidating opposition. This just seems like a random act of mental illness-induced anger.
What will be interesting is whether authorities in Tennessee will push for the death penalty even if the victims ask them not to. It’s happened before and sometimes the prosecutor listens, other times the “victim’s rights” get tossed aside when they’re inconvenient to a prevailing agenda.
Check this map out. Humboldt County is like the only California county north of Sacramento with Unitarians.
Addendum: More info on the attacker. Plenty of ammunition if you want to trash right wing celebs like O’Reilly and Savage, but it’s probably unfair. Interesting quote: Adkisson told Still that since “he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office.”