The St. Joseph News-Press reports the mid-morning shootings at Conception Abbey located in rural Missouri on Monday, 10 June. Three persons, including two monks, were killed by gunfire. Both monks had been at the Abbey for over 30 years. Abbot Gregory Polan OSB heard six shots from near the business office and phoned emergency services. The person who shot the monks, Lloyd Robert Jeffress, 71, lived in a seniors’ housing complex in Kearney, MO, and was unknown to the Abbot and the monks. He was found dead in the Basilica with two weapons, “a replica AK-47 assault rifle and a Ruger .22-caliber rifle,” according to Ben Espey, the county sheriff. The assailant died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Two other monks were also injured and rushed to local hospitals.
The victims were identified as Fr. Philip Schuster OSB, 84, and Bro. Damian Larsen OSB, 62. Schuster was the porter at the monastery’s front door; Larsen worked as a groundskeeper. Prior Kenneth Reichert OSB, 68, was shot in the stomach, but he refused surgery on doctors’ advice. Fr. Norbert Schappler OSB, 76, was listed in stable condition; it wasn’t immediately clear how he was wounded. Schappler oversees the dining room and works as art director at the printing house.
The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was rededicated at 7:00 A.M. on Wednesday, 12 June 2002. The family and friends of the deceased gathered with the monks on Thursday evening, 13 June, at 7:00 P.M. for the service of Vespers. They celebrated the Liturgy of Christian Burial on Friday, 14 June, at 11:00 A.M. Fr. Albert Bruecken OSB, Director of Vocations, wrote an inspiring eulogy for the two deceased monks.