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Knoxville woman joins KPD chaplains to help others after 2008 church shooting

A Knoxville woman became a police chaplain after a shooting at her church in 2008 took the lives of two.

Knoxville — Ten years ago today, a gunman shot and killed two people and injured several others at the Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church in West Knoxville.

Natalie LeVasseur's husband was inside on that tragic day.

After the shooting, she became a chaplain for the Knoxville Police Department.

The role of the chaplain is to help people during some of the worst days of their lives. For the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, ten years ago today was no exception.

July 27th, 2008 is a day LeVasseur will never forget.

"For me, it's been Kennedy's assassination, 9/11, and the shooting at TVUUC," she said.

Her husband was at the church when a gunman shot and killed two people, and injured several others.

"I replay what happened, I see posts on the internet from people who were injured," LeVasseur said. "They're living with the physical part of it. I'm just living with the emotional."

She made it through that painful day with help from the Knoxville Police Department's chaplains.

Now, she's decided it's her turn to help.

She recently graduated from the chaplain training program.

They help victims at crime scenes who are going through a trying time, or an officer dealing with emotional stress.

"This is what people need. Be open to that, and ask them what they need," LeVasseur said. "Be present with them--as a caring person--because disasters make people feel so isolated. This is saying you're not by yourself. There are people here who care about you."

For chaplains, it's about being a light for people even on the darkest of days.

"Not to become so frightened that you just withdraw. It's how to move toward the tragedy in a positive way," LeVasseur said.

The chaplain coordinator for KPD says that day in 2008 was terrible, but she's proud of LeVasseur and her response to it.

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