PA town reels from deadly attack

Faith-based advocate says silence is not an option in hate crimes against women.

BY MONICA OLIVAS | COLLIER TOWNSHIP, PA | August 7, 2009



"If we donít talk about these things it continues. We donít talk about anger, we donít talk about how to handle those things."

—Inez Torres Davis, ELCA


A community is in shock after a gunman entered a local gym and killed four people, including himself. At least 10 other people sustained injuries, many of them serious.

The victims were all female. The killer allegedly made hateful and angry statements toward women on a blog he is thought to have written. According to police investigators, the crime was designed to target women.

After a tragedy like, this many in the community question why it happened and how it could have been prevented. Many faith-based organizations have strong women’s groups and often step in to offer some healing.

Inez Torres Davis, Director for Justice at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), says violent acts like this can be prevented, but people are often afraid to talk about it.

“If we don’t talk about these things, it continues. We don’t talk about anger, we don’t talk about how to handle those things.” Torres Davis says.

But, she says, we can’t just act after a crime has been committed. There are a lot of preventative measures that can be taken. Torres Davis says society is often reluctant to do something because talking about violence towards women gives it a spotlight.

“If we don’t talk about it, we silence it. Then, it’s a continuum,” she says.

The gunman entered the LA Fitness in Collier Township, outside of Pittsburgh, Tuesday evening. He walked into the group fitness room and turned off the lights. Then, he began shooting at the women in the room, until he turned the gun on himself.

Police are still investigating what may have motivated the killer to do this. A blog he is thought to have written documented his thoughts toward women and his intent for an attack.


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