Former GCC professor killed in Tennessee church shooting

By: Stephanie Brletic Email
By: Stephanie Brletic Email

GRAYSON COUNTY, Tex. -- Two people lost their lives in the church shooting in Tennessee on Sunday that has stunned the nation. We now know that one of those victims was a former professor at Grayson County College. First News reporter Stephanie Brletic talked to some of the people who knew her best on Monday.

Linda Kraeger was shot Sunday morning when 58-year-old Jim Adkisson opened fire at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. Five people are listed in serious and critical conditions. Two people were treated and released. Police say Adkisson wrote a letter before the shooting, expressing hatred for the church's liberal views. He was arrested and charged with first degree murder and is being held on $1 million bond.

Here in Texoma, Linda Kraeger is being remembered. Kraeger, 61, spent more than two decades working as a professor at Grayson County College teaching everything from computer science to English.

After learning that Kraeger died, Grayson County College president Alan Scheibmeir says it is hard to believe something so horrible could happen to such a wonderful woman, a woman who could light up a room with an infectious, upbeat personality.

"This is just so tragic, you know, it's just hard for us to imagine that something like this would happen to her, just a precious colleague," Dr. Scheibmeir said.

Over the years, many students passed through Kraeger's classroom, but coworker Shelle Cassell says Kraeger left a lasting impression on all of her students with a unique ability to connect with them.

"Whatever conversation you had, it was in the moment and it was with her. There were no other distractions. She never made you feel like she didn't have time for you. I mean, her students really felt that she cared about them," Cassell said.

Kraeger earned a number of degrees, including a Master's in business administration and a Ph. D in creative writing. She also used her skills to author a number of articles and publications.

Scheibmeir says Kraeger was very well rounded, able to bring many skills into the classroom.

Her colleagues say she had a gift for passing those skills on to her students.

"She had that magic gift of making it relevant to the students. That’s what she brought to the college beyond all of her competencies and her degrees," Cassell said.

Kraeger's co-workers say they missed her after her 2002 retirement and when she moved to Tennessee eighteen months ago, but now it's hard to believe that she's gone forever.

From the Associated Press...

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Police say an unemployed man accused of opening fire with a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun in a Tennessee church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal social policies. Two people were killed.

Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen says a letter, recovered from the SUV of 58-year-old Jim Adkisson, indicates the suspect was motivated by his frustration at not being able to obtain a job and his stated "hatred of the liberal movement."

The Unitarian-Universalist church promotes progressive social work, including advocacy for women and for gay rights.

Owen says the letter also indicates Adkisson did not expect to leave the church alive.

He says the suspect had 76 rounds with him and "certainly intended to take a lot of casualties."

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