COURT DOCUMENT: Adkisson talked about killing now-ex-wife

By: Michael Grider and Nick Bona
By: Michael Grider and Nick Bona

UPDATE 7/28/08 6:12 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Members of the Barnhart family, who have loved ones recovering at UT Medical Center after being wounded in Sunday's church shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in West Knoxville, have released the following statement to the media:

"The entire Barnhart family would like to thank our friends and the community for their calls, visits and prayers. We would first like to express our deepest regrets to the family of Greg McKendry, and our prayers and thoughts are with his family. We are heartbroken with the loss of our dear friend Linda Kraeger and our prayers are also with her family. Even though the Barnhart family had never attended the church until last Sunday to attend the children’s play, they would like to thank the church family for their prayers. We would like to express our most sincere thank you to the UT Medical Center staff for their non-stop care. Our family members continue to recover and we ask that your prayers continue for all that have been involved in this tragic event."


UPDATE 7/28/08 5:14 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- In a press conference Monday afternoon, Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church President Ted Jones says after Sunday's deadly shooting, the church need's healing, and patience and understanding from the community.

Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations President Bill Sinkford encourages the community to stand in solidarity with the Unitarian Universalist church, as those affected by the shooting begin the healing process.

Jones says, "(Our church) will continue to have an open door and an open ear to anyone that comes to our door. We welcome anybody, and we're not going to change that."


UPDATE 7/28/08 4:20 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- In an order of protection filing obtained by Volunteer TV News, Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church shooting suspect Jim D. Adkisson's now-ex-wife says he talked about "(blowing) my brains out (and) then (blowing) his own brains out."

In the document, Liza Alexander, then of Norris Freeway in Powell, said she was "in fear of (her) life and what he might do."

The document contains several instances of profanity in Alexander's handwritten explanation. You can read the entire, unedited order of protection filing HERE (Warning, profanity NOT removed).


UPDATE 7/28/08 3:55 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A University of Tennessee Medical Center spokesman tells Volunteer TV News that church shooting victim Jack Barnhart, 69, has been upgraded from critical condition to serious condition, and John Worth, Jr., 68, has been discharged from the hospital.


UPDATE 7/28/08 12:58 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen has issued the following statement in response to the Sunday morning Knoxville church shooting:

"Our prayers are with those who have been affected by this horrible event. We extend our sympathies to the families who lost loved ones and hope those who were injured make a full and quick recovery."


UPDATE 7/28/08 11:13 a.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Knoxville's police chief says the man accused of a gun attack at a church that killed two people and seriously wounded five others apparently selected the congregation because of its liberal social stance.

Chief Sterling Owen IV said Monday that police found a letter in the car of Jim D. Adkisson, 58, who was tackled and held by members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church after the Sunday morning attack.

Owen said Adkisson was apparently frustrated over being out of work and had a "stated hatred of the liberal movement."

The church is known for advocating women's and gay rights and founding an American Civil Liberties Union chapter.

Owen said the letter indicated Adkisson did not expect to leave the church alive and had 76 rounds of ammunition for his 12-guage semiautomatic shotgun.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


UPDATE 7/28/08 10:30 a.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The names of the victims of Sunday morning's church shooting have been released:

Joe Barnhart, 76 -- UT Med. Ctr -- No condition released
Jack Barnhart, 69 -- UT -- Critical
Betty Barnhart, 71 -- UT -- Discharged
Linda Chavez, 41 -- UT -- Critical
John Worth, Jr, 68 -- UT -- Stable
Allison Lee, 42 -- Fort Sanders -- Ft. Sanders -- Discharged
Tammy Sommers, 38 -- UT -- Critical


UPDATE 7/28/08 12:08 a.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Two people are dead after a shooting Sunday morning at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in West Knoxville.

Greg McKendry, 60, and Linda Kraeger, 61, are both dead, and seven others were injured in the attack. Six church members remain hospitalized.

Knoxville Police have a man in custody and plenty of witnesses to what happened, but the question that remains is Why? And, more specifically, why TVUUC?

Will answers come from the suspects home -- which police have been searching -- or from his own words?

Church member Steve Drevik says the shooter is “not a member of a congregation as far as any of us know.”

For police and the alleged shooter’s targets, 58-year-old Jim Adkisson is the face of the stranger who, in seconds, shattered nine lives, and forever seared some two hundred more

The Rev. Chris Buice says, “Greg McKendry, we loved Greg McKendry.”

An esher, and board member for Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist, police say McKendry was the first to see Adkisson, and he tried to stop him. He died for his efforts.

KPD Chief Sterling Owen says, “We received reports of shots fired at the church.”

Those shots were fired in the sanctuary where a crowd sat watching a children's play.

Drevik says, “A lot of people , of course, just hit the dirt behind the pews.”

But at least three didn't.

Owen says, “The suspect had been subdued by other individuals in the sanctuary -- our officers--took him into custody.”

Dozens saw it, or were there as it happened, and many of them were children, some taken to Second Presbyterian next door.

Katie Wilson attends Second Presbyterian Church, and says, "Two of them was really horribly upset and one was throwing things." Katie Wilson says, "Seeing kids like that and how they dealt with stress really made you realize how you'd act if something like that ever happened.”

Their parents have had to spend hours reliving it and talking to investigators.

Some sharing home video meant to capture their kids proudest moments, but that may have filmed the crime itself.

Owen says, “We've recovered all of the videotapes that we could…There's a lot we cannot tell you simply because it would affect the outcome of the case.”

The evidence police will discuss includes the extra shells the alleged shooter brought for whatever he'd planned.

Rev. Chris Buice says, “We loved Greg McKendry, and please pray for this congregation, for we are grieving the loss of a wonderful man.”

Most of the day Sunday, friends, family, and strangers came to offer and receive comfort.

Carrie Nicely is a friend of a church member who brought flowers.

“It's very upsetting. You think Church is some place for love, not Hate.”


UPDATE 7/27/08 8:20 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Mayor's spokesman Randy Kenner confirms that a second person has died after Sunday morning's TVUUC shooting.

Kenner says the victim has been identified as Linda Kraeger, 61.


UPDATE 7/27/08 8:13 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A source whose daughter attends the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church confirms to Volunteer TV's Lauren Davis that a second victim, a woman, has died after being shot Sunday morning at the West Knoxville church.


UPDATE 7/27/08 8:01 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has released the following statement concerning the Sunday morning Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church shooting in Knoxville:

"When we go to our places of worship, we go expecting to have a time of reflection and fellowship. Today's violence is the worst sort of desecration and should be renounced by all faiths. I join all Knox Countians in offering our prayers to the families affected by this terrible tragedy. This is a time for all of us to come together to lend our complete support to this church family."


UPDATE 7/27/08 7:56 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- U.S. Senator Bob Corker has released the following statement concerning the Sunday morning Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church shooting in Knoxville:

“We've reached out to Mayor Haslam’s office, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by this terrible tragedy.”


UPDATE 7/27/8 7:08 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A neighbor who says she has known church shooting suspect Jim D. Adkisson, 58, for a few years tells Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb that Adkisson has a problem with religion that stems from a childhood of being forced to attend church by his parents.

The neighbor says Adkisson believes the Bible contradicts itself.


UPDATE 7/27/08 5:45 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The suspect in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has been identified as Jim D. Adkisson, 58, of Powell.

Adkisson is charged with one count of first degree murder, and is being held on a $1 million bond.

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations President Rev. William G. Sinkford released the following statement on the organization's Web site:

"I am shocked and sorrowed by the terrible shootings in the sanctuary of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. My heart is heavy and my prayers are with our injured sisters and brothers in Knoxville. While many details of this tragedy remain unclear, our Association will do all we can to support Unitarian Universalists in Knoxville in the hard days to come. "

You can read the entire statement HERE.

Update 7/27/08 4:08 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has posted the following message on their Web site,

"Dear friends,

Our congregation is recovering from the violent incident that occurred during this morning's worship service. Please keep us in your prayers. We will post more information here shortly. Thanks for your continued support."


UPDATE 7/27/08 4:00 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen says nine people were shot Sunday morning inside the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in West Knoxville, and one of them has died.

Owen would not release the alleged shooter's name, but he did say that the FBI is involved in the investigation.

Owen says there were only a few shots fired, not as many as 13, as initial reports suggested.

Volunteer TV's Heather Haley reports that UT Medical Center says they received seven victims. Five of those victims are in critical condition, one of them is listed in serious condition, and one was treated and released from the hospital. No names have been released at this time.


UPDATE 7/27/08 2:33 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Multiple sources confirm to Volunteer TV News that the victim killed in the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church shooting is Greg McKendry, 60.

Church member Becky Harmon tells Volunteer TV that McKendry was involved in the production of the "Annie, Jr." performance that was going on at the time of the shooting.

Harmon says McKendry's wife costumed the children for the play.


UPDATE 7/27/08 2:08 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- WVLT is expecting a KPD press conference sometime before 4:00 p.m., and that press conference will be carried live on Volunteer TV and streamed as it happens on

If you are a TVUUC member who wants to speak out about Sunday's shooting, please call the WVLT newsroom at 865-766-8154.

If you have on-scene photos or videos of this developing news story, submit them to, or by contacting WVLT Web Producer Michael Grider in the Volunteer TV newsroom at 865-766-8154.


UPDATE 7/27/08 1:45 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knox County Commission candidate Amy Broyles and her family were in the church when the shots rang out, and Broyles says at least one person was dead on the scene.

Broyles' husband, Jamie was one of the church goers who tackled the gunman in the sanctuary of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in West Knoxville.

Broyles says one of her daughters was in the middle of a speaking part in the children's performance of "Annie, Jr." that was going on when the shots rang out.

Amy was in the church's "cry room" when she heard the first shots, and she says she could see the gunman through a window looking into the sanctuary. She says he was close enough to touch if the glass weren't there.

Second District Commissioner Mark Harmon is also a member of the church, and Knox County School Board member Indya Kincannon often attends services. Both Harmon, Kincannon, and their families are safe.

In a posting sent to a message board for members of the North Hills neighborhood where the Harmon's live, Broyles writes:

"Dear Neighbors,

The Harmon's are safe, and providing help and care to the people still at the church. We came home after the police took our statements. Our daughter was on stage when the shooting began, and my husband Jamie was one of the people who tackled the gunman. It was a horrible, horrible, horrible sight. I don't even have the words to express what it was like.



UPDATE 7/27/08 1:25 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knox County Commission candidate and Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church member Steve Drevik says an individual "came in with a shot gun, and fired somewhere between six and maybe 13 shots, hitting a number of members of the congregation."

Drevik says at least two of victims had serious injuries.

"We don't know why. We don't know this particular individual. We may never know why. All of this will come out over the next couple of days," Drevik says.

Drevik says all of the victims are adult congregants, and no children were hurt.


UPDATE 7/27/08 1:08 p.m.: KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has released the following statement: "Today Knoxville suffered a tragedy. Our thoughts at prayers are with the victims, their families, and the church community."

A press conference is expected late in the day.


KNOXVILLE (WVLT) -- A man has walked into a West Knoxville church and opened fire on the Sunday morning congregation.

Dispatchers say it happened just after 10:15 AM at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Kingston Pike.

According to church members, children from the congregation's summer theater workshop were preforming Annie the Musical when a man with long blond hair, wearing jeans and a short sleeve t-shirt walked in and fired 13 shots.

Seven people were struck by bullets. The extent of their injuries is unknown but several ambulances took the victims from the scene to the nearby University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Other congregation members may have overpowered the shooter and detained him until police could arrive. He is in custody.

We will have the latest on this breaking story as it develops.

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  • by Sandra Location: Calif. on Nov 23, 2008 at 03:32 AM
    This was a terrible tragedy. Does anyone know if Jim Adkisson ever lived in Danville, Calif?
  • by Anonymous on Jul 31, 2008 at 02:26 PM
    to open minded. It is his right to consider this man a hero, just like it is your right to be gay. don't hate the supporters, hate the cause.
  • by open-minded Location: los wages ,NV on Jul 29, 2008 at 11:56 PM
    note if you do a goggle search for hero and his name you will find on craigs list the following, this is how despicable the right wng can be, this guy is already a hero to many on the right. The right wing hate talk in tv and radio needs some balance. how anyone can say the media is liberal when 90% plus hate talk on the radio is right wing. and this talk is admired by right wing political leaders. Remember McVeigh is a hero to many on the right. here is the pathetic quote from a posting on craigs list. quote Jim Adkisson is a HERO! Reply to: Date: 2008-07-28, 11:52PM PDT Libtards are the greatest threat to national well being and the need to be eliminated. unquote
  • by Vickie Location: South Knoxville on Jul 29, 2008 at 06:52 PM
    My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in Sunday's nightmare. I do not know what this world is coming to. It seems like you are not safe any place for the Devil has a hold of these people. Being out of work and getting your Food Stamps cut is no excuse to do what he did.
  • by Bruce & Judy Carr Location: Knoxville on Jul 29, 2008 at 03:48 PM
    Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of this tragedy. God Bless All!
  • by Vivian Location: State of Washington on Jul 29, 2008 at 01:32 PM
    Some comments suggest UU's are all atheists. Some suggest we are Christian. Actually we have diverse beliefs and are joined together by our principles. We affirm and support: * The inherent worth and dignity of every person, * Justice, equity and compassion in human relations, * Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; * A free and responsible search for truth and meaning, * The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large, * The goal of world communion with peace, liberty, and justice for all, * Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. In any case, our hearts go out to the members of the two Unitarian Universalist congregations who were watching their children's play when a very sick individual inexplicably fired shots killing two and injuring others.
  • by WakeUPKnoxville Location: Georgia on Jul 29, 2008 at 01:29 PM
    Where is the love? not all here but I have read some nasty comments from some in Knoxville and surrounding towns. I am disgusted to know that there are that many hate mongers living in your area. Rise up and come together for other people to see that You really are the VOLUNTEER state, and you all do come together for a greater good than yourselves. Like start with unconditional love, remember that we are all different, and God loves us all for that. Lastly learn that homosexuality is NOT a lifestyle just as the color of your skin, you cannot change it. Why would anyone choose to not be accepted, rejected from their conservative family, WHY? they wouldn't! the majority of Americans disagree with same sex marriages YES, but the majority of Americans tolerate it, love them unconditionally, and know that is who they are and they CANNOT change that, but why not SouthernpartsofTennessee? I guess I am not surprised considering in TN it used to be illegal for blacks and whites to marry.
  • by Terri Location: Texas on Jul 29, 2008 at 01:18 PM
    Andrew, your posting doesn't even make sense. Christian conservatives are the ones seeing rights demolished by those who want to take God out of everything. Hate spewing and politicizing an event of tragedy like this makes no sense at all. Pray for all involved for healing and higher understanding and peace. I do.
  • by freespeech101 on Jul 29, 2008 at 12:45 PM
    I am a Unitarian Universalist and unlike most other UUs, I believe in the Death Penalty for this man and anyone else who purposely takes the life of another, unless it is to protect one's own life of the life of another innocent person. I don't believe in torture, I feel they should be taken out quickly and as painlessly as possible. Gun shot to the head would do. I believe that he does not deserve to live and will never be rehabilitated or able to be trusted. Prisons generally make people worse, not better. Tax payers should not have to support his or other murderers' lives in prison or pay for the costly court appeals. There are too many people in the world and the ones that are clearly harming others should be eliminated. We all die, so why keep him alive? He would have ended his own life if her were not taken down. Many thanks to the brave and selfless man jump in front of the gun and gave up his life to stop the killing spree and saved the lives of many others!!!!!!
  • by Mike Location: W. Knoxville on Jul 29, 2008 at 08:20 AM
    Yes it must be someone elses fault for this man to do what he did. Married 5 times, drank all the time and couldn't get food stamps any more. We don't take responsiblity for our actions any more, just think if he had spilled hot coffee on himself without a warning label, this could have happen even sooner, yes they live amongst us. Lets hope our government doesn't waste a lot of time prosecuting this individual, i do not want to have to pay the bill to keep this person in jail.


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