Chaplains 'Point People to Christ' After KY Mass Shooting, Shocking Stats Emerge on Gun Violence
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New details are being made public about the Louisville mass shooting, including a warning from the gunman's mother. It comes as a light is emerging from that darkness – the chaplains on the ground who are now ministering to families.
Newly released 911 recordings show the shooter's mother tried to warn authorities, while police bodycam video shows their heroic response to end the violence that day.
In the moments before the attack on an Old National Bank in downtown Louisville, the suspect's mother, alerted by her son's roommate, called 911 to warn them.
"My song might (inaudible).. have a gun and he's heading toward the Old National Bank, at uh, it's on Main Street here in Louisville," she said to police dispatch.
When asked if her son, 25-year-old Connor Sturgeon, owned any guns – she said, "I know he doesn't own any guns." She didn't realize Sturgeon had legally purchased a gun just six days before.
Five people died and another eight were injured, including a Louisville officer who responded when Sturgeon started shooting co-workers. In a statement, his family expressed their sorrow for the attack and acknowledged he faced mental health challenges that were being addressed.
Chaplains Offer Comfort
Since then, chaplains have been on the scene ministering to those suffering from this tragedy.
"The heart is wicked – the prophet Jeremiah says, 'the heart is wicked above all, who can know it?'" said Jason Scalzi, the law enforcement deployment manager with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.
Scalzi is a retired police officer and has seen a lifetime of death and destruction. He and his wife now work with the BG-RRT, serving in the most difficult circumstances.
"When we deploy to these types of scenes, our initiative is to provide emotional and spiritual support," Scalzi said. "We listen to those who are grieving, weep with those who weep. We're a sounding board to those who need it. We pray with those who need prayer."
Gun Violence Study
Monday's shooting is the 15th mass killing in the U.S. this year – two weeks after a former student fatally shot three children and three adults at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, TN.
Grim research data has just been released about gun violence in the U.S. Polling data from the Kaiser Family Foundation tracks Americans' experiences with gun-related violence. The report came out one day after the mass shootout at that Kentucky bank.
"We didn't put out the survey because of what happened in Louisville, it's just unfortunate we can't go more than several days in this country without news of a shooting," said Ashley Kirzinger, director of survey methodology with KFF.
One finding shows gun violence affects the lives of more than half of all Americans. So far, there have been more than 140 mass shootings in the first quarter of 2023.
"One in five parents say they've pulled a child from a school, changed a school or thought about changing a school because of their worry of gun violence," said Kirzinger. "Those are decisions that parents shouldn't have to make."
Kirzinger helped lead Kaiser's nationwide study, revealing data on gun-related violence, injuries, and deaths. Some of the results include: 1-in-5 adults have personally witnessed a shooting; 1-in-3 black adults have had a family member killed by a gun; 84 percent of adults surveyed have taken at least one precaution to protect themselves or their families from gun violence.
"That leads us to more than half of U.S. adults in this country – have either personally experienced, or a family member experienced an incident with a gun like this," Kirzinger said.
While both the chaplain team and the Kaiser researchers see this as a health crisis, they also keep clear of policy issues.
"The bottom line is that this world is broken, it's a sin issue," Scalzi said. "And we don't get involved with gun control and talking about things like that. We're just here to point people to Christ."
Kirzinger did say the poll uncovers an opportunity for health officials to get more involved in this conversation, saying data shows only 5 percent of adults report a doctor or other health care provider has ever talked to them about gun safety.
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