SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — The deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas — a sanctuary and place of worship — may be unthinkable, but it’s not unprecedented.
Perhaps the incident that first comes to mind is the attack at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in June 2015. Nine parishioners, all African-American, were shot by a young white man who entered their Charleston, South Carolina, church, joined their Bible study for an hour and then opened fire. The shooter targeted his victims because of their skin color.
But there have been others. Many others.
- In September 2017, as services were ending at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, near Nashville, a gunman shot and killed a congregant named Melanie Crow Smith, who was walking back to her car. The gunman then entered the church with a pair of pistols and started firing. Almost 50 people were inside; the gunman wounded six.
- In 2014, a pastor was shot and killed during a service at the Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy) Mission Catholic Church in Phoenix.
- In 2013, the pastor of the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was shot and killed while the choir was singing hymns.
- In 2008, a gunman walked in during a children’s musical performance at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, and fatally shot two people.
- In 2007, a man shot and killed four people in two attacks — first, at the Youth With a Mission Center religious complex in Colorado Springs after a Christmas banquet; and then in the parking lot at the New Life Church in Arvada, Colorado.
Those are just some of the reported incidents from the past decade. — the list is much longer. And it’s not just Christian churches.
- A shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in 2012 left six dead and four wounded.
- In 2014, a gunman killed three in two separate shootings at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom in Overland, Kansas.
If you were to expand the list beyond deadly shootings, you’d have to include dozens and dozens of incidents of vandalism, arson and other crimes directed at mosques just this year alone.