BISHOPS in the United States have spoken of their anguish as two shootings in three days days left at least a dozen people dead.
In a pastoral letter after the third, and deadliest, of the shootings on Tuesday, the Bishop of Southern Virginia, the Rt Revd Susan Haynes, wrote in a pastoral letter that “once again, our world has been plunged into darkness.”
“The aftermath of such violence is dark and full of anguish. Our pained cries and laments rise up,” Bishop Haynes wrote, before exhorting people to “say your prayers and get to work.”
Bishop Haynes was responding to a shooting in Chesapeake, Virginia, on Tuesday, in which a Walmart employee drew a pistol in a break-room and killed six people, wounded several others, and then turned the gun on himself. The New York Times reports that five of the victims have been confirmed as colleagues of the gunman, while the identity of the sixth — a boy aged 16 — is being withheld because of his age.
Walmart identified the shooter as Andre Bing, aged 31, who had worked at the shop for more than ten years. The motive for the attack remains unknown.
Three days earlier, in Colorado Springs, five people were killed, and at least 25 wounded when a gunman opened fire in an LGBTQ+ nightclub.
The Bishop of Colorado, the Rt Revd Kym Lucas, described the shooting as “heartbreaking”. In a statement to the Episcopal News Service (ENS) she said: “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families as we hold them in our prayers. We pray also for the shooter and his family, and we pray most fervently for an end to gun violence.”
Police arrested 22-year-old Anderson Aldrich, and are holding him on suspicion of murder and hate crimes, although the motive for the attack remains undetermined.
The Rector of St Michael’s Episcopal Church, Colorado Springs, the Revd Matt Holcombe, told the ENS that he visited the scene of the attack the next morning, “just to be a physical presence of love and to offer prayers over a place where lives were lost and changed for ever”.
Mr Holcombe said that: “As a church that welcomes all, we have staff, clergy, parishioners that are all part of the LGBT community. Our hearts break; our hearts have been broken open again by another mass shooting.”
Colorado Springs is considered to be a socially conservative city, and Club Q, where the shooting occurred, was described in The New York Times as having been an “oasis for many” in the city’s LGBTQ+ community
Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family, a conservative Evangelical group based in the city, condemned the shooting, saying “We are never for violence against anybody”.
Mr Daly told The New York Times that “there’s a perception that somehow if we have a deep difference of opinion on the definition of marriage that somehow we are simply a hate group. We do not see ourselves as that.”