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David Hines [userpic]

the Unitarian Universalist shooting

July 29th, 2008 (09:18 am)
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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.


Posted by: cyano (cyano)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)

my sister knows people at the church, including shooter and ex-wife.

PFA is confirmed, as is her membership at the church (unsure of the frequency or current member status)

I don't know much beyond that.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)

Freeeeeow. Thanks for the confirmation.

The political fanaticism has been played up a lot so far, but I'm wondering if the personal connection wasn't a major contributing factor.

I can't fucking believe the judge gave the guy bail. Sure, it's a million dollars, and Adkisson can't afford to post bond himself, but all it takes is one rich lunatic.

(I am cynical enough that I can see Michael Savage doing it as a publicity stunt.)

Posted by: cyano (cyano)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)

yah. From the data given, he was a drunk, and the PFA was for typical behavior on his part.

I would imagine that the personal connection is a greater contributor than what they are stating.

Posted by: Thomas (ryokokusanagi)
Posted at: July 30th, 2008 05:03 pm (UTC)

The guy did leave a four page manifesto about how he blamed "Liberals" and "Gays" for everything, and his intent to kill them. While the personal connection can't be ignored, that doesn't make the political contribution smaller.

Posted by: cyano (cyano)
Posted at: July 30th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)

no, but when your wife is a member of a 'Liberal Church' and that church encourages her to leave and divorce him due to the violence and drinking...

A whole lot of rationalization can be put into that manifesto.

I am making a leap of logic, but not really that big of one.

Posted by: Thomas (ryokokusanagi)
Posted at: August 1st, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)

The divorce was eight years ago. She wasn't even a member of that church anymore. That's a long time to wait if he's just mad about her.

If a four page manifesto, his own testimony(1) and a reading list including "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by the eponymous Bill O'Reilly doesn't convince you what would? What kind of evidence would you consider enough to say that politics really was his motivator?

(1)I don't want to spam quotes, so I'll just cite my source here: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jul/28/church-shooting-police-find-manifesto-suspects-car/

Posted by: cyano (cyano)
Posted at: August 4th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
don't get snippy with me.

I didn't say it wasn't a factor. I am saying it is a contributor. TVUUC can't be the only bastion of liberalism in the state.

Why them and not another group?

These are rhetorical questions, btw.

Posted by: Thomas (ryokokusanagi)
Posted at: August 8th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
Re: don't get snippy with me.

It was supposed to be a perfectly reasonable question. Evidently it came off more hostile than intended, which is my fault. Since I have no desire to create a hostile conversation, I'll bow out now.

Posted by: masgramondou (masgramondou)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)

In re: "what to do" see
this post from Eric Raymond:

I am now about to articulate a position that will startle regular readers of this blog: Taking away peoples’ guns is fun.

I learned this when I took Sal’s class on Pistol Disarms just before the dinner break. Any self-defense expert will tell you “Run from a knife; charge a gun.” You can avoid being stabbed or cut by keeping out of an attacker’s reach, but you can’t outrun a bullet. So the right thing to do is close and grapple for the disarm. And close fast, before the attacker can react and shoot you.

This is easier than it sounds. At the 7 to 10-foot range of typical self-defense encounters, a trained fighter has a very good chance to close and execute before the shooter can fire. The specific disarm Sal taught involved a block and twist that winds up with the barrel pointed back at the shooter; at that point, with a bit of pressure, you can force him to shoot himself. Alternatively you can simply twist the gun out of his hands, probably breaking a finger or three of his in the process.

I love this technique. It rewards (a) aggression and strength, (b) closing up on the opponent, and (c) putting truly vicious intention on the strike and twist.

Posted by: Sinanju (sinanju)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)

Yeah, one of the oft-mentioned drills for shaking up peoples' preconceptions is the one where the "bad guy with a knife" charges the guy with the training pistol from as much as 30 feet away. It's shocking how often he can close with the guy and use the knife before the student can react. It sounds like a safe distance--but action (and surprise) beats reaction a lot more often than you'd think.

As someone on my flist said, this is the new standard. If someone is trying to kill your friends or loved ones, try to be at least as manly as a 70 year-old Unitarian.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)

I would probably focus on the shooter's arm, myself, being somewhat out of shape and not schooled in grappling, but just plain tackling the guy would work, too.

Thanks for the link.

Posted by: The Cake Maker of Kiev (could kick your ass) (ladyvyola)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)

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 been my philosophy (knock wood I'll never have to implement it) since the Long Island Railroad shooting in '93. Obviously, response to any particular attack has to be dictated by its specific circumstances, but preventing the shooter from reloading/changing weapons seems to be the most important factor in surviving.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)

Indeed. The fewer shots the shooter gets off, the better, whether he gets to a reload or not. If he does reload/change weapons, that's a window of opportunity for defenders.

I am deeply impressed by the instant reaction of the congregation. They went from Condition White straight to Condition Red, and acted brilliantly.

Posted by: Nokomis (nokomis305)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 04:51 pm (UTC)

That shooting really kind of freaked me out, because while I don't know anyone in the congregation, I live in the area, and so it hit close to home.

The fact that they fought back and protected each other selflessly really makes me proud of them, though. You really don't hear about reactions like that often enough.

Posted by: cmar_wingnut (cmar_wingnut)
Posted at: July 29th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)

I was raised Unitarian and feel horror at the violence directed at these good people, empathy - and very proud that they reacted so bravely.

The advice you quote is absolutely true. If someone's walking around looking for people to shoot, cowering or running isn't going to protect you.

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