David Earl Johnson, LICSW

4 minute read

Another mass murderer, this time in a church. []1Knoxville News Sentinel

“Jim D. Adkisson sometimes volunteered to change his neighbors’ tires. He let neighbors store their property in his garage. He was the guy everyone could count on to help out when they needed a hand. On Sunday, however, Adkisson was accused of opening fire with a 12-gauge shotgun during a children’s play at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Kingston Pike, killing two and injuring seven. Now, those who knew him as “David” and considered him their friend want to know why. Adkisson, 58, was charged with first-degree murder Sunday for the mass church shooting. He was being held in lieu of $1 million bond. [..] “I’m saddened for the church, I’m saddened by what happened, but I’m also saddened for him, as well,” Massey said. “He was my friend. If I needed him for anything, he would have done it for me.” Massey said that, after learning of Adkisson’s alleged involvement in the church shooting, she recalled a lengthy conversation she had with him a couple of years ago. Massey’s daughter, Cameron, had just graduated from Johnson Bible College, and Massey was eager to share the news. But when Massey told Adkisson, he didn’t react as she had expected, and she ended up having to explain to him that she was a Christian, triggering an outburst that lingered in her memory. “He almost turned angry,” she said. “He seemed to get angry at that. He said that everything in the Bible contradicts itself if you read it. “I was shocked that he had feelings like that, because I don’t have the same beliefs. I believe in the King James Bible, I believe it literally. … He had his own sense of belief about religion; that’s the impression I got of him.” According to Massey, Adkisson talked frequently about his parents, who “made him go to church all his life. … He acted like he was forced to do that.” “ It appears Adkisson was anti-liberal and anti-religion. So he picked on a liberal church? []2USATODAY.com

“It appears he was acting alone,” Chief Sterling Owen IV tells reporters. “In his written statement, he does not describe any affiliation with anybody and the subsequent search at his residence shows that it appears he was operating alone.” The chief says Adkisson fired three times with a 12-gauge shotgun. They recovered 76 shotgun shells at the Tennessee Valley Universalist Church. The gun was purchased last month at a pawn shop. “I do not believe he expected to leave there alive,” Owen says. [..] Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the four-page letter that investigators recovered from Adkisson’s truck “indicates he had been planning the shooting for about a week…. It appears he did choose that church intentionally,” Owen says.”[]3ABC News

“Jim D. Adkisson, 58, ranted that “liberals and gays” taking jobs had prevented him from finding work. [..] “It appears what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, frustration over that and his hatred for the liberal movement,” Owen said. The chief later added, “He did express that frustration that the liberal movement was getting more jobs and he was being kept out of the loop because of his age” and because he wasn’t liberal. “It appears he did choose that church intentionally,” Owen said, possibly after it had received some publicity for its advocacy of liberal causes. “We’re certainly investigating it as a hate crime.” “ There is something inherently incongruent here in the motive for a hate crime. He was forced to go to church as a child. He talked about the inconsistency within the bible. The Unitarian Church is as non-denominational as a denomination can be. The bible is treated as one text out of many, and inconsistencies are discussed. Perhaps though he really didn’t do his homework and took on the cause of punishing the church for it’s liberal views, not for it’s highly inclusive “doctrine”. But there is a lack of rationality to the choice that suggests Adkisson may have a thinking problem along the lines of paranoia or delusional disorder, but so far, there isn’t enough information. []4The Guardian

“The church’s website speaks of its “long and rich history of taking stands for social justice,” and said it has fought since the 1950s for racial desegregation, fair wages and equal treatment for women and homosexuals. It provides sanctuary for political refugees and founded a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. The church hosts social events for gay and lesbian teens.” Just how did he connect liberals and gays to not having a job? Seems like a stretch suggesting a thought problem. Perhaps the news will have a more in depth profile by tomorrow. Suffice it to say, no one should have so much alone time that few of his friends new what was bothering him. Isolation is a set up for future problems. This sounds similar to the “postal worker” syndrome.

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