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Church shooter hated 'the liberal movement'

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire at a Unitarian church, killing two people, left behind a note suggesting that he targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal policies, including its acceptance of gays, authorities said yesterday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire at a Unitarian church, killing two people, left behind a note suggesting that he targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal policies, including its acceptance of gays, authorities said yesterday.

A four-page letter found in Jim D. Adkisson's small SUV indicated that he intentionally targeted the Tennessee Valley Unitarian-Universalist Church because, Police Chief Sterling Owen said, "he hated the liberal movement" and was upset with "liberals in general as well as gays."

Adkisson, 58, a truck driver, had 76 rounds with him when he entered the church and pulled a shotgun from a guitar case during a children's performance of the musical "Annie."

Adkisson's ex-wife once belonged to the church but hadn't attended in years, said Ted Jones, the congregation's president. Police investigators described Adkisson as a "stranger" to the congregation, and police spokesman Darrell DeBusk declined to comment on whether investigators think the ex-wife's link was a factor in the attack.

Adkisson remained jailed yesterday on $1 million bond after being charged with one count of murder. More charges are expected. Four victims were hospitalized in critical condition.

"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 for the liberal movement," Owen said.

Adkisson was a loner who hates "blacks, gays and anyone different from him," longtime acquaintance Carol Smallwood, of Alice, Texas, told the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Authorities said that Adkisson's court records show that his former wife obtained an order of protection in March 2000 while the two were married and living near Knoxville.

In Adkisson's letter, which police have not released, "he indicated . . . that he expected to be in there [the church] shooting people until the police arrived, and that he fully expected to be killed by the responding police," Owen said. "He certainly intended to take a lot of casualties."

The Unitarian-Universalist church advocates for women's rights and gay rights, and has provided sanctuary for political refugees. It also has fed the homeless and founded a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, according to its Web site. *

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