Knoxville in 2008: On a Somber Note

Three shocking incidents of gun violence threatened our feelings of security and made us question violence, prejudice, and vengeance, and even the nature of humanity. For the short term, they brought us all a little closer together in this complex social weave we call Knoxville. In the long term, who knows?

Sunday, July 27

A gunman opened fire during a children’s performance of Annie Jr. at 10:18 a.m. at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. He killed Greg McKendry, of TVUUC, and Linda Kraeger, visiting from Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Farragut, and severely wounded six others before being subdued by a handful of men. Jim David Adkisson, 58, of Powell, has been charged with first-degree murder for the shooting. The church resumed services the next Sunday.

Thursday, Aug. 21

Sophomore Ryan McDonald was shot to death in the cafeteria at Central High School, allegedly by 15-year-old schoolmate Jamar B. Siler.

Wednesday, Oct. 8

William Norman Johnson was charged with the fatal shooting of Ahmed Nahl, 29, an Egyptian expatriate working at Reno Men’s Wear in Knoxville Center mall. Authorities quickly quelled rumors of gang violence or racial motivation, saying the shooting resulted from an argument over a purchase. On Nov. 9, the Muslim Youth of Knoxville, organized by 14-year-old vigil Sumaiya Hussain and accompanied by representatives from TVUUC and others, held a vigil against gun violence at the mall. They honored those killed in the TVUUC, Central, and mall shootings, carried protest signs, and wore green as a symbol of peace.

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