Sunday, May 20, 2001

Two die in church shooting

The Associated Press

        HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. — As an evangelist encouraged people to accept God, a man holding a gun in one hand and his 2-year-old son in the other opened fire on a small Baptist church, fatally shooting his estranged wife and another woman, eyewitnesses said Saturday.

        Adrianne Radford raised her arms pleading for her life before she was shot Friday night during a revival at The Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, the wife of the church's pastor said.

        “She begged him not to shoot her,” Darnette Leavell said. “She started scooting away from him and said "OK Freddy, OK Freddy, Please Freddy, please Freddy, oh Jesus,' and he got closer and gave her the final shot.”

[photo] Worshipers comfort one another after two women were killed in a shooting at The Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church in Hopkinsville, Ky.
(Associated Press photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mrs. Radford, 25, of Hopkinsville, died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Mary Anne Turner, 47, of Hopkinsville, was pronounced dead at Jennie Stuart Medical Center in Hopkinsville.

        Fredrick Radford, who has said he is a minister at a Methodist church in Madisonville, was arrested after a standoff with Hopkinsville police Friday night. He was charged with two counts of murder.

        Adrianne Radford had filed a domestic violence order against her husband and moved out of their home with their son, Fredrick Jr., about two months ago, according to Latrice Banks, with whom Adrianne had been staying.

        The shooting happened around 9:30 p.m. CDT during the last day of a five-day revival at the African-American church.

        Adrianne had briefly stepped outside the church during the revival to talk with her husband, who had been watching their child. When Mrs. Radford went back into the church her husband followed carrying the child.

        “He was acting like he was kind of nervous,” said Felicia Elder-Oldham, a church member. “I saw the gun when he was walking through the church.”

        The Radfords sat down in the front row directly in front of Darnette Leavell, the wife of the minister of the church. He appeared agitated while whispering in her ear, she said.

        “I put my hand on his shoulder and asked him not to do this in church,” Ms. Leavell said.

        Ms. Elder-Oldham told Ms. Leavell that Mr. Radford had a gun and she needed to call for help. Ms. Leavell then went to her husband's office to get a cordless telephone and returned to the congregation, meeting Fredrick Radford face to face. He said “there was not a problem, we're going to pray at the altar,” Ms. Leavell said.

        “I had dialed 9 and 1, but I turned the phone off,” Ms. Leavell said.

        Moments later Adrianne asked for the phone and when Ms. Leavell handed it to her, Mr. Radford knocked it to the ground and pulled out a gun, Ms. Leavell said.

        Adrianne Radford fell against a wall and Ms. Turner, who was sitting in the second pew, reached out to help, Ms. Leavell said. Frederick Radford shot her and then shot at Adrianne Radford, Ms. Leavell said. Adrianne slumped to the ground, looked up at Mr. Radford and begged for mercy, but he took two steps toward her and opened fire, Ms. Leavell said.

        He then turned toward the congregation with his son propped on his hip.

        “He started waving the gun and he was trying to shoot it but it would not go off,” Ms. Leavell said. “I just feel like God shut down that gun.”

        Fredrick Radford then adjusted his hold on the baby and headed out the door.

        “Everybody was screaming, everybody was running and everybody was ducking,” Ms. Leavell said.

        Fredrick Radford then fled in a car and was met by Hopkinsville Police Chief Kenny Over, said Cpl. Mike Wood, a spokesman for the department.

        “Apparently, Radford knew that the chief was after him, and he held up a gun and the baby, and a standoff ensued,” Cpl. Wood said. “Chief Over managed to calm him down and talk him into surrendering without further incident.”

        The standoff lasted about 15 minutes, he said.

        Besides the two murder counts, Mr. Radford is charged with several counts of wanton endangerment, fleeing and evading, violation of a domestic violence order and possession of a stolen firearm. He was lodged in the Christian County Jail without bond. His arraignment is set for Monday morning, Cpl. Wood said.

        “She knew she was in danger, he had been making threats to her in the past,” Ms. Banks said on Saturday.

        Ms. Banks said that Mr. Radford had called his wife Thursday night and threatened her. Ms. Banks said she tried to persuade Adrianne to call police but she refused thinking her husband was only trying to scare her and that God would protect her.

        “It's one thing to pray, but another thing to have common sense and you need to have enough common sense to take these threats seriously,” Ms. Banks said.

        Adrianne had planned to file for divorce on Tuesday, Ms. Banks said.

        The child is in custody with relatives in Hopkinsville.

        Ms. Banks said she planned to be back at the same church this morning “because that's what Adrianne would have wanted.”

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