Baptist deacon, 'fine Christian gentleman,' among those killed in Miss. plant shooting

MERIDIAN, Miss. (BP)--A Southern Baptist church deacon was among those killed in a shooting at a Lockheed Martin plant in Mississippi July 8.

Micky Fitzgerald, a deacon at Hopewell Baptist Church in Little Rock, Miss., was killed when a gunman entered the aircraft parts plant and began firing. The gunman, Doug Williams, a worker at the plant, shot several people in an annex building before entering the main building and shooting several people there. At least eight people were wounded; six, including the gunman, were killed.

Fitzgerald, 45, left behind two children. One is married, the other a teenager, according to his pastor, Hopewell Baptist pastor Jimmy McDill.

"He was just a fine Christian gentleman," McDill told Baptist Press. "He was tops."

McDill last saw Fitzgerald Sunday morning at church. While funeral arrangements had yet to be made at press time, McDill said that Fitzgerald's was "going to be hard" because they were "mighty close."

"Micky was just a down to earth kind [of person]," McDill said. "... He reflected the life of Christ. ... He's the kind [of person] that when something like this happens, it takes the wind out of your sails. He was that kind of an individual."

Also killed was C.J. Miller, a 58-year-old bi-vocational Church of God pastor who also worked at the plant. Malcolm Lewis, pastor of Northcrest Baptist Church in Meridian, said he knew Miller well and often saw him at a local restaurant following Sunday services. Miller had visited Northcrest to attend various Bible conferences, Lewis said.

"He was a real nice guy," Lewis told BP. "I can't believe anybody would have anything against him. He loved the Lord. He was a fine pastor and loved his people."

Another victim was Sam Cockrell, who served as a deacon at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Meridian, according to The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.

Several former and current workers at the plant speculated that racism motivated the gunman. Of the five killed, all but Fitzgerald were black. But Cockrell's brother, Christopher Cockrell, said that the gunman could not have known his brother well.

"There's racism across the nation, and an incident like this reminds us that we're not in that perfect world yet," he told The Times-Picayune. "But if you knew my brother, it would be impossible to hate him. And now he is with the Lord."

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