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Affidavit: Man admits church shooting, says liberals should die

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  • NEW: Affidavit: Man targeted church because of its liberal teachings
  • NEW: Suspect says liberals ruining country, according to affidavit
  • Suspect's letter says he couldn't find job, police say
  • Man, 58, arrested and charged after 2 killed, seven others injured in Unitarian church
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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (CNN) -- A man accused of fatally shooting two adults and wounding seven others at a Knoxville church told police the church's liberal teachings prompted him to attack, according to court papers.

Jim Adkisson said liberals should be killed because they're ruining the nation, according to an affidavit.

Jim David Adkisson told investigators all liberals should be killed and admitted he shot people Sunday morning at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by CNN affiliate WBIR.

Also, a four-page letter police found in Adkisson's vehicle indicated he was motivated by frustration over being unable to obtain a job, authorities said Monday.

Police said Adkisson, 58, of Powell, Tennessee, walked into the church's sanctuary during a children's musical performance and fired a shotgun before being overpowered by congregants and arrested. Adkisson -- who police said wasn't a member of the church -- has been charged with one count of first-degree murder.

According to the affidavit requesting to search Adkisson's home, the suspect told investigators liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country. Adkisson also blamed Democrats for the country's decline, according to the affidavit.

"He felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of major media outlets," the affidavit said. "Because he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement ... he would then target those that had voted them into office."

Killed in the shooting were Linda Kraeger, 61, and Greg McKendry, 60, police said. Witnesses said McKendry, an usher and board member at the church, tried to shield others when he was shot, according to The Associated Press. Video Watch scene at church after shooting »

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Four of the seven surviving wounded were still in the University of Tennessee Medical Center on Monday evening. Officials there said two patients were in critical condition and one was "stable." The hospital would not release information about the fourth person.

At a news conference Monday, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV said Adkisson left a note in his vehicle before entering the church, thinking police would kill him after the shooting began.

Owen said the letter, signed by Adkisson but not addressed to anyone, expressed hatred for gay people and what he called the liberal movement.

According to Out & About, a gay newspaper based in Nashville, Tennessee, the church was home to several gay and gay-friendly groups and recently posted a "gays welcome" sign "as part of its long-range planning to conduct more outreach and welcome" to gay men and lesbians.

The church, on its Web site, describes itself as a community that has worked for social change -- including desegregation, women's rights and gay rights -- since the 1950s.

The case is being investigated as a hate crime, Owen said.

Owen also said the letter expressed Adkisson's frustrations at not being able to find employment. Authorities also discovered a letter from the state government telling Adkisson he was having his food stamps reduced or eliminated, police said.

Owen said Adkisson has resided in the Knoxville area for three or four years and his last known employment was in 2006. Neighbors told The Associated Press Adkisson had been a truck driver, and Owen said Adkisson has an associate's degree in mechanical engineering. See map »

"He did express that frustration, that the liberal movement was getting more jobs," Owen told reporters. "And he felt like he was being kept out of the loop because of his age." Video Watch police chief describe latest findings »

Investigators found 76 shotgun shells in the church, Owen said. Three rounds were fired from a 12-gauge shotgun that was brought into the church hidden in a guitar case, police said.

There is "an indication he was not targeting the children," but that has not been conclusively determined, Owen said. Are you there? Share photos, video, accounts

During a search of Adkisson's home, investigators confiscated a handgun, a sawed-off shotgun barrel and books by conservative commentators, authorities said.

The shooting came eight years after Adkisson, according to divorce documents, threatened to kill his fourth wife and himself.

In a 2000 complaint filed in Tennessee's Anderson County, his then-wife, Liza Alexander, said she was "in fear for my life and what he might do." She also claimed that Adkisson "drinks heavily every day, and becomes belligerent, and makes threats."

"My husband, Jim David Adkisson told a friend of mine that one of his options is to blow my brains out and then blow his own brains out (I heard him say this)," Alexander wrote in her petition for a protection order, which she was granted.

The only criminal record authorities have found of Adkisson shows two instances of driving under the influence -- one in California "a number of years ago" and one "more recently" in Tennessee, Owen said.

Authorities have been told that Adkisson was once in the military, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, Owen said.

Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman, said there is a record of a Jim David Adkisson who served beginning in 1974. He was released from active duty in 1977 and discharged in 1980. He was a helicopter repairman with the 163rd Aviation Co. at Fort Campbell, Kentucky -- part of the 101st Airborne Division.

Adkisson's military record shows that in 1977 he was demoted from a specialist 4th class to private. Information about why Adkisson was demoted wasn't available.

Neighbors said Adkisson was quiet and kept to himself.

"He never went anywhere. He never had anybody over. Just, it was really quiet. He rode a motorcycle and you know he would go out on the weekends on his motorcycle, but other than that, you never heard from him," Melissa Coker told WVLT-TV.

Coker told the AP that Adkisson had been a truck driver, but she didn't think he'd been working steadily in the past six months.

"He's just a really, really nice guy," Coker told the AP.

Adkisson's landlord said she did not know him well enough to make any comments on his character but said he was a good tenant who paid his bills, according to CNN affiliate WBIR-TV.

Bail was set at $1 million late Sunday.

Police said people were recording videos of the children's performance when the shooting happened, and investigators were reviewing the videos. Information on what, if anything, the videos show of the shooting wasn't immediately available.


Three of the wounded were relatives who were visiting the church for the first time Sunday. WVLT identified the three as Joe Barnhart, 76; Jack Barnhart, 69; and Betty Barnhart, 71, who was treated and released Sunday.

A statement released by the family Monday said: "The entire Barnhart family would like to thank our friends and the community for their calls, visits and prayers. ... Our family members continue to recover and we ask that your prayers continue for all that have been involved in this tragic event."

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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