St. Pete church expresses condolences on Tennessee tragedy

07/28/08 Mitch E. Perry
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In Knoxville, Tennessee, police say an unemployed man accused of opening fire with a shotgun and killing two people at a Unitarian church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal social policies.

Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen said a letter had been been recovered from the SUV of 58-year-old Jim Adkisson, by investigators seeking clues about the motive behind the attack.

Authorities said he was an apparent stranger to the Tennessee church where gunfire punctuated a children's performance based on the musical "Annie." Two people were killed and seven wounded Sunday.

Chief Owen said at a news conference: "It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that and his stated hatred of the liberal movement."

Margie Manning is president of the Board of Trustees with the Unitarian Universalist Church in St. Petersburg.

A longtime friend of Adkisson told a Knoxville newspaper today that the man always had the attitude the government was trying to get him.

Carol Smallwood said, “He disliked blacks, gays, anyone who was a different color or just different from him.”

Adkisson’s wife was a former longtime member of the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Manning said the tragedy in Tennessee should make church officials aware of the vulnerabilities that exist in all places of worship. She said her church will not succumb to fear.

Manning said the St. Pete church is planning a remembrance service for sometime this week.

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