The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Monday, November 26, 2007

Guns Do Kill People

When we talk about the tragedy of gun violence in our communities, we often focus on the occasions when bullets maim or kill the shooter's intended targets. But there are many other instances that prove that bullets have no conscience and that maiming and killing arise even when no intention to injure is present. I imagine that most people who read this blog can name multiple incidents when the "wrong" person was shot or the gun went off accidentally. This past week such a tragic circumstance emerged in Duquesne, a suburb or Pittsburgh, and ended the life of Chelsea McAllister.

The story, Police question boy 14, in girl's shooting, as reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is as follows:
Chelsea McAllister's online ID is "jesus i'm yours," a theme on which she performed a liturgical mime dance in the hours before she was fatally shot Tuesday at the home of a youth minister in Duquesne.

The 15-year-old 10th-grader at West Mifflin Area High School was killed instantly by a blast to the head from a 16-gauge sawed off shotgun.

The 14-year-old Penn Hills boy who police said pulled the trigger has not been charged. Police have not identified him.

The 14-year-old and a 15-year-old Penn Hills youth had been with a group of teens that included Chelsea, her sister, Ashley McAllister, 18, and a 15-year-old girl who also attends West Mifflin Area High. They all had been invited to join Chelsea at a youth group service Tuesday night at Grace Community Ministries in the Hill District.

Chelsea had performed with a mime troupe at the church service. Afterward, the five teens were driven by Keith Owens, a youth minister at Petra Ministries in East Hills, to his home in the 200 block of South Sixth Street in Duquesne.

The home of Chelsea and Ashley, a senior at West Mifflin Area High, is around the corner from Mr. Owens' residence.

Mr. Owens, 21, lives about two blocks from the Bethlehem Temple Apostolic Church where Chelsea's grandfather, Bishop Nathan McAllister, is the pastor.

Duquesne Police Chief Richard Adams said Mr. Owens had two guns at the residence, a rifle that was kept upstairs and a sawed-off shotgun that had been given to him by a relative.

Mr. Owens told police that he and the teens were in the living room and at least one of the boys wanted to examine the shotgun. He said he unloaded the weapon before allowing the boys to examine it, Chief Adams said. The shotgun, however, still contained a cartridge.

After their short visit, Chelsea and Ashley left to go home. But Chelsea forgot her purse. She walked back up the porch stairs and into the residence. As she entered the living room, the shotgun was discharged, with the shot striking her in the head, police said.

Immediately after the shooting the boy ran into the street screaming that he had shot someone, Chief Adams said.

Inside the residence police found Chelsea's body and the weapon used to kill her.

"We're just upset, wondering why he [Mr. Owens] would show those kids a gun," said Kimberly Thomas, Chelsea and Ashley's aunt.

Why indeed?

Our prayers go out for the comfort of the McAllister family, as well as for the peace and healing of the 14 year old who shot Chelsea and for the youth minister who owned the sawed-off shotgun.


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