Tragedy struck a Tennessee church when a gunman opened fire during a youth performance Sunday, leaving two people dead. Seven adults were also injured but none of the children were harmed at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.
Several congregants managed to tackle the gunman and he was eventually taken into police custody. Now Jim D. Adkisson, 58, is facing first-degree murder charges and being held on $1 million bail, according to city spokesman Randy Kenner.
One of the shooter's victims, deceased 60-year-old Greg McKendry, is being hailed as a hero for shielding others from a shotgun blast. McKendry was a longtime church member and usher.
Linda Kreager, 61, died later at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Kenner said.
Five people have remained in the hospital in critical or serious condition. Two others were treated and released.
As is the case with many other Unitarian Universalist churches, Tennessee Valley promotes progressive social causes, such as desegregation and gay rights activism.
The church has also provided a haven for political refugees, fed the homeless and founded a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, according to its Web site.
The FBI is lending it's assistance in the case, searching for any possibility that Sunday's shooting was a hate crime, according to Police Chief Sterling Owen.
Approximately 200 people were watching a children's performance based on the musical "Annie" when the shooting happened.
Chris Buice, the church's minister, was vacationing in western North Carolina when the shooting took place, but returned Sunday afternoon.
"We've been touched by a horrible act of violence. We are in a process of healing and we ask everyone for your prayers," Buice said in a statement outside the church. "I will tell you we love Greg McKendry. We are grieving the loss of a wonderful man."
Source: The Associated Press