I (Carl Chinn) am now starting my 19th year of collecting data on the most violent incidents at faith-based facilities in the U.S. In all those years, no day was as emotionally draining as November 5th, 2017 (i.e. the Sutherland Springs, Texas massacre). I wasn’t alone, as those of us across the country, passionate about this subject, felt a collective kick in our gut.
My first thought, as the number climbed to 12 dead in Sutherland Springs was, “I wish so much we were wrong about this message that churches should be prepared.” As the number rose through the day, and finally stopped at 26, it was hard to function.
That alone was a record in any one day. Everyone knew of that one.
Many of us also knew that later that same day, an estranged husband killed his wife and her boyfriend as Mass was letting out at a church in Fresno, CA. Then we were at 29 deaths associated with faith-based property in one day (though the suicide came after the Fresno killer drove away).
Very few know the day had begun, just after 1:00 AM Central Time, with a tragic life and death struggle at a church in Rockford Illinois.
30-year-old Rockford Police Officer Jamie Cox had been with the RPD a little under a year, having transferred over from being an Illinois state Game Warden.
Prior to being a Game Warden he had served in Afghanistan. Resulting from that service, he had earned the honors of an Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, a Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Illinois National Guard Abraham Lincoln Medal of Freedom Ribbon.
There is another character in this story. A 49-year-old man. We know very little about his life leading up to 1:00 AM on November 5th. We will just call him, “the Driver.” I find many pictures and stories of Officer Jamie Cox prior to that, but no stories and only one picture of the Driver.
I would say the two following pictures offer clues of what happened. The backdrop behind Officer Cox is one of honor. Behind "the Driver" is shelves stocked with liquor. The look in their faces seem to reflect the impact the backdrops have had on each of their lives. A picture is, as they say, worth a thousand words.
Jamie pulled the Driver over because the tags did not match the vehicle. After he was pulled over, it became known he was driving on a suspended license.
What happened next may never be fully known. What we do know is that Officer Cox became entangled with the Driver’s vehicle as the Driver took off. Two blocks down the street from where the stop was made (and Officer Cox’s car remained) the two were found on the property of the Unitarian Universalist Church. The Driver was dead at the scene, Officer Cox died at the hospital.
Jamie Cox died of blunt force trauma most likely caused by the vehicle. The Driver died of gunshot wounds from Jamie’s firearm.
Think About it…
The end for both men came on the church property under a 25-foot long black and gold banner declaring, “Black Lives Matter.”
I will stand against racism any day. Some of my best friends, including my personal pastor of more than 20 years, are black. My wife knows if I die soon, he is to do my funeral. But I have no tolerance for the BLM movement.
Consistent with expectations, an attorney is now involved with the family of the Driver. The same attorney who led a lawsuit against the RPD in another case where an officer killed a domestic abuser in a church in Rockford on 8/24/09.
Though the Universalist Church took the banner down for a few days after the incident, it went back up again a few days later.
The sun set on America on November the 5th, 2017 with 31 people having died a violent death on (or associated with) faith-based properties that day. The prior 1-day record was nine.
I want all of us who hurt for Sutherland Springs (as we should) to not forget officer Jamie Cox who had died early that same morning under a Black Lives Matter sign in a cold church yard in Illinois. Officer Cox, we salute you.