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Shootings at US houses of worship in recent years

Raghu Vinder listens to speakers during a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Aug. 5, 2013, in Oak Creek, Wis., marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting rampage in which a white supremacist killed six people. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Some fatal shootings that have happened at U.S. houses of worship since 2012:


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Nov. 5, 2017: Dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault weapon, 21-year-old Devin Kelley opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding about 20 others.

Sept 24, 2017: Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, was charged with killing a woman and wounding six other people with gunshots at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn.

Aug. 13, 2016:  Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and his friend Thara Uddin were fatally shot as they left a New York City mosque. Oscar Morel, 35, was charged with second-degree murder.

Aug. 9, 2016: A shooting during a party at a Jersey City, N.J., church left 17-year-old Leander Williams dead and two teenage girls wounded. Daequan Jackson, 18, was charged with murder.

April 24, 2016:  Mark Storms fatally shot 27-year-old Robert Braxton III during Sunday services in a suburban Philadelphia church. Storms, 46, argued self-defense but was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

Feb. 28, 2016:  The Rev. William B. Schooler, 70, was fatally shot by his 68-year-old brother inside an office at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, as Sunday services were winding down. Daniel Schooler was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 31 years to life in prison.

June 17, 2015:  Nine black worshippers including a pastor were killed by Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist, after he prayed with them for nearly an hour. The shooting happened at historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C. Roof was convicted of federal hate-crime and obstruction-of-religion charges and sentenced to death.

April 13, 2014: Neo-Nazi and former Ku Klux Klan leader Frazier Miller Jr. fatally shot Dr. William Corporon and his 14-year-old grandson Reat Underwood outside an Overland Park, Kan., Jewish center as they arrived for a community event. Miller then drove to a Jewish retirement community, where he fatally shot Terry LaManno, who was visiting her mother.

March 31, 2013: A 28-year-old man fatally shot his father during Easter services at the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ in Ashtabula, Ohio. Reshad Riddle then made a rambling statement at the pulpit while yelling about God and Allah, still holding his handgun as panicked worshippers fled the church.

Dec. 2, 2012:  Elementary school music teacher Gregory Eldred, 52, shot his ex-wife, Darlene Sitler, while she played the organ during a church service at the First United Presbyterian Church in Coudersport, Pa.

Oct. 24, 2012: A former facilities maintenance employee at World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga., opened fire, killing church volunteer Greg McDowell, 39, while he was leading a prayer. Police arrested Floyd Palmer, 51, who was found guilty but mentally ill and sentenced to life in prison.

Aug. 5, 2012:  Six members of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, in Oak Creek, were fatally shot by a white supremacist, Wade Michael Page. Page was shot by a responding officer and later killed himself.

May 9, 2012: Joseph Lewis Jr., 84, was fatally shot while sitting in a car guarding Victory Way Assembly Church of God in Christ in Detroit, Mich. Two teenagers, 15-year-old Anthony Williams and 18-year-old Alandre Boone, attacked him while a Bible study took place inside. Police suspected robbery was the motive. Both teenagers were tried and convicted as adults for second-degree murder.

May 3, 2012: A homeless man killed himself after fatally shooting a priest and a church secretary at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, Md. Police said Douglas Franklin Jones had been turned away from the church food bank about two weeks earlier for visiting every day instead of weekly.

Source: News reports

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  • Matthew 24: 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

  • If good happens, there’s a text for that and if bad things happen, there’s a text for that, too. All bases are covered.

  • Though the examples given are in a sense anecdotal, and I would hesitate to draw any all encompassing conclusions from them, 2 of the seven events cited involved what appear to have been believers shooting other believers, though I may be making an incorrect inference. Other examples include color on color shootings, white on color shootings, and neo-Nazi on Jewish shootings. Also in the mix is family within family shootings. Something for everyone…a tragedy tonight.

  • This may be overly inside-baseball, but the Overland Park (suburban Kansas City) incident was not at a synagogue (house of worship), but at a Jewish Community Center. JCCs are Jewish institutions but they are by mission pluralistic and sometimes for that reason specifically do *not* host worship services. It gets even more confusing because there are many synagogues that are also called “Jewish Centers” or even “Jewish Community Center.” It all dates back to about 100 years ago and the push to make synagogues not just places of worship, but genuine places for the community to gather for sports, meetings, classes etc.
    PS: Although the Nazi/KKK members that committed the murders was motivated by anti-Semitism, the three victims were not Jewish.

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