Sunday, July 27, 2008

Unspeakable Tragedy

How does this happen? Why? Will we ever know what motivated this individual?

Thanks to everyone for your prayers and thoughts for our injured members. I'm quite shocked and appalled at the early media reports of fatalities with no confirmation. I would ask all media to desist in those situations barring any official confirmation because we still have worried families in the hospital and nobody needs to make reports that (we pray) turn out to be false.

I would like to go on record regarding what I said to the media, which certainly did not include any conjecture regarding the condition of my fellow members (the people I helped were certainly not critical cases, and I'm hoping that the other cases were not much more serious than theirs).. My understanding is they are at UTMC, the best trauma center in the state, and being cared for, and I don't care for the 'we think' reporting.

If there's another source of information leading to these rumors of fatalities, I don't know what it is and I would hope that the media would be much more careful. Not just in this case, but any similar case. I know they are trying to get the news out, but please think of the people in the hospital waiting rooms. Please.

My goal (as I didn't have to await an interview) was to help people in the community to have friends or family members at the church to understand what happened, that the situation was being VERY well managed by KPD and emergency response, and that we are a very strong community already helping each other through this.

For future inquiries, please contact the church (who has not yet defined any official spokesperson, but it sure as hell isn't me) or the Knoxville Police Department.

And keep those prayers going. Again, my thanks out to KPD, KFD, the Red Cross, and my fellow members of the church, especially the brave men who stopped the assailant. And thanks to the outpouring of support from the community. I hope another situation never presents itself where we need to do the same, but be assured, if it does, we will be there standing with you.

Update- it's late evening. The news has already broken regarding our two losses, Linda and Gary. The media, in a vacuum, is making wild guesses regarding motive.

At the vigil tonight, it was clear that we aren't so focused on the 'why', but more on consoling each other, and helping those affected cope with the tragedy. One person commented that what "why" could there be that we would condemn? Mental illness? Hate? Neither of these would be a subject for rebuke by our congregation. So we will focus on the healing, especially the children who had to witness the tragic events. To labor on the question of whether the world is basically good or basically bad is a waste of time- the world is what WE all decide to make it.

And we thank the community (and other communities) for their outpouring of support. While we hope we never ever have to return the favor, we will of course stand with you in your time of need also. From the professional counselors that have offered their services to the person just making sandwiches for strung-out victims, we are grateful for everything.

You can read more about Gary at a site put up by his nephew.

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