June 10, 2002


Gunman Kills Two, Self at Missouri Abbey

CONCEPTION, Mo. — A gunman opened fire Monday at a sprawling Roman Catholic abbey, killing two monks and wounding two other people before taking his own life, authorities said.

The body of the gunman was found in the chapel at the Conception Abbey Benedictine monestary, said a law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the man shot himself to death after shooting the others.

Nodaway County Sheriff Ben Espey said an AK-47 and a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle were found nearby.

Names of the gunman and the victims were not immediately released, and the extent of the injuries of the two wounded victims was not known.

It was not immediately clear where at the abbey the bodies of the monks were found.

Authorities had no comment on the motive, including whether it was related to the recent sex abuse scandal involving Catholic priests. Rebecca Summers, spokeswoman for the Kansas City-St. Joseph archdiocese, said her office had no comment on the shootings.

Ronda Strueby, 39, a supervisor in the packaging department of the Abbey’s printing house, said all employees were evacuated about 9 a.m.

“One of the monks, Brother Jeremiah, said there’s a man in the monastery with a gun, and we need everyone to evacuate,” she said in a phone interview. “We were all told to go home.

“There’s a lot of helicopters and things around now. We heard he was in the monastery connected to the church. … It’s just not something you think about happening especially in a religious institution.”

The Conception Abbey is a sprawling Benedictine monastery and seminary. The seminary college on campus is the largest priestly training center in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The complex also has a basilica.

The college lists a staff of 19 priests, eight brothers, one sister, six lay professors and student body of 97. The abbey is located 80 miles north of Kansas City.

With the church embroiled in scandal, two U.S.-based priests have committed suicide since April and one was shot by a man who said he had been sexually abused by the priest.

The Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, led by Bishop Raymond J. Boland, said in March that it had paid $25,000 in 1996 to settle a sexual abuse claim against a priest. The alleged abuse occurred in the early 1980s, when the accuser was in grade school, said the Rev. Patrick Rush, vicar general of the diocese. By the time the allegations were made in 1995, the priest had left the priesthood and was dead. Rush would not identify the accuser or the priest, or say how the priest died.

Gunman Kills Two, Self at Missouri Abbey
Fox News
Monday, June 10, 2002