Maryville Church Shooting: The Mythical Bulletproof Bible

While many people in these parts are still trying to make sense of the tragic shooting that happened yesterday at a church in Maryville, media around the world already have begun to play up the most sensational element of the story: that the Rev. Fred Winter, who was killed in the incident, used a Bible to deflect his killer's bullets.

A story by London's Daily Telegraph bore this misleading headline:

Daily Telegraph.jpg

That Telegraph story has already surged in popularity on social-bookmarking Web site Digg. A quick Google search produced more than 700 results selling the same story.

So what really happened? It's amazing but far from miraculous. 

The Belleville News-Democrat has had remarkable coverage of the story from the start and they have included the official police account of the day's events on their Web site. Here's what the cops had say about the supposedly bulletproof Bible:

Four shots from the .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun were fired at the pastor. The first one of them shredded the Bible he was holding. 

"The suspect raised his hand, fired the first shot, hit the pastor's Bible. When it did, it hit the very top of the Bible and exploded the top of the Bible into what many in the congregation thought was confetti," Trent said. "In fact, some thought it was some type of skit or some type of program." 

One of the remaining shots struck Winters in the chest, killing him. The two other shots did not hit anyone. 

After the fourth shot the gun malfunctioned. Two church members rushed the gunman and tackled him.

Maybe if Pastor Fred had been using his special Kevlar copy of the King James Version yesterday things would be different. Right now it's just sad.

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