Shooting accused 'hated church's liberal policies'

An unemployed lorry driver accused of opening fire at a US church, killing two people, left a note suggesting he targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal policies, authorities said.

An unemployed lorry driver accused of opening fire at a US church, killing two people, left a note suggesting he targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal policies, authorities said.

A four-page letter found in suspect Jim Adkisson's 4x4 car indicated he intentionally targeted the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, because "he hated the liberal movement" and was upset with "liberals in general as well as gays".

The Unitarian-Universalist church advocates 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 website.

Adkisson, 58, 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 had not attended in years, said Ted Jones, the congregation's president.

Adkisson is in custody after being charged with one count of murder, although more charges are expected. Four victims are in a critical condition in hospital.

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", a police spokesman said. "He certainly intended to take a lot of casualties."

Witnesses said the attack was cut short after some church members tackled the gunman and held him until police arrived.

The police chief said the suspect bought the shotgun at a pawn shop about a month ago.

About 200 people from throughout the community were watching 25 children performing 'Annie' when the suspect entered the church, pulled out a semiautomatic shotgun and fired three times.

Usher Greg McKendry, 60, was hailed as a hero for shielding others from gunfire as other church members rushed to wrestle the gunman to the ground.

No children were hurt, but eight people were shot, including the two who died - Mr McKendry and Linda Kraeger, 61.

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