July 29th, 2008


the Unitarian Universalist shooting

Information is still coming out on the shooting at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN. We've already seen information contradicted: the first word from the guy's neighbors was that he was vehemently anti-religious; a neighbor said that he got angry with her when she mentioned in conversation that she was a Christian. This made me scratch my head; if he was motivated by religious issues, you'd think he'd attack something other than a famously non-doctrinal sect.

Turns out he's a political fanatic with an intense hatred of liberals and homosexuals.

Also, radio station WNOX reported yesterday that his ex-wife, who had an order of protection against him, attended the church in question. Don't know if that's accurate. CNN says the order was granted in 2000, because he threatened to kill her. If the order was in effect, it raises questions about the legality of his gun ownership. We'll have to wait a few days to see how that all comes out.

I believe that people who commit these crimes are strongly influenced by previous attempts. It appears that, in most cases, they don't research them for the most effective methods -- thank God -- but they do seem to find some individual case that strikes a chord and emulate those. In this case, the shooter was probably strongly influenced by Steven Kazmierczak, the graduate student who walked into an auditorium at Northern Illinois University and started firing. Kazmierczak wounded eighteen, killed five, and then fatally shot himself. Like Jim Adkisson, the Knoxville perpetrator, he carried a shotgun in a guitar case. Kazmierczak also had at least three handguns (a Glock 9 mm and two that I haven't seen identified). His shotgun was a pump-action Remington, probably a model 870, and he fired six shots from it before it was empty and he went to the handguns. Adkisson had a semi-auto shotgun, make and model currently unknown. It turned out not to make a difference. According to one witness, Adkisson got off a grand total of three rounds. His first two shots killed two people, one of whom reportedly took the shot to protect other people. His third shot went wild, because the congregation was on him. Bravo to them.

A while back, I posted an after-action report on Virginia Tech massacre. It included some recommendations on what to do if, God forbid, you find yourself in this sort of situation. One of them was "be prepared to respond aggressively:"

Attack fast, attack hard, and do not stop attacking while you are physically capable of doing so. Attack in a group if at all possible. You do not have to kill the shooter outright. You do have to render the shooter incapable of further action. Take the shooter down, keep the shooter down, and yell for people to help you. Get a pile of people going, get the gun away, keep the shooter from getting the gun back or resisting.

That's what the brave-as-hell congregants at the Unitarian Universalist church did.

Way to go.