BY WALTER OPINDE
On this day, 30st June, 1974, the famous Afro-American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.’s mother, Alberta King, was shot and killed while participating in the morning church service; so sad! The 69-year-old wife of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., and the mother of Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader who was assassinated six years ago (1968), was shot and killed today as she played the organ for morning service in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in the center of Atlanta, Georgia.
“Alberta Williams King’s assailant went berserk,” a young black man who eye-witnesses said. The assailant was reported to had earlier said that all Christians were his enemies. Shortly after, in a great commotion, the entire church congregation pounced on the black assailant; unfortunately, he had wounded other two members of the congregation. One of the two victims was fatally injured.
According to eye-witnesses Mrs. Alberta King, whose husband, the Rev. Martin Luther King Snr, was pastor of the church on Auburn Avenue, was playing the organ for the Lord’s Prayer near the start of the service when the attack began. A young black man jumped and screamed, “You must stop this! I am tired of all this! I’m taking over this morning.” With that he drew two pistols and for the next 90 seconds fired wildly and continuously, hitting Mrs. King, another elderly woman parishioner, and a 69-year-old church deacon- Mr. Edward Boykin.
While members of the congregation dived beneath the benches, a few men from the choir jumped on the gunman, who was shouting: “I’m going to kill everyone in here – they did it to me in the war.” Mrs. King’s grandson Derek, who said he helped to subdue the gunman as he tried to reload a pistol, added: “He was emotional. He appeared to be in a fever; He said over and over, ‘The war did this to me. It’s the war.'”
Shortly after, Mrs. King was taken to the nearby Grady Memorial Hospital, where officials said she was “barely alive” on arrival. She died shortly afterwards from a gunshot wound to the right of her head. On the other hand, Mr. Boykin, one of the victims, was pronounced dead on arrival. The attack on Mrs. King took place less than 100 yards from where her famous son, Martin Luther King Jr., killed in 1968 at the age of 39, was buried.
Aware of the potential consequences of this latest tragedy, the Mayor of Atlanta, Mr. Maynard Jackson, issued a statement beseeching the community to remain calm. Mr. Jackson was elected merely a year before the incidence. He was the first black mayor of a major Southern City. Just before the misfortune, he had returned abruptly to Atlanta from a West Coast conference a few days earlier, after ominous civil disturbances had erupted in the streets following the police shooting of a young black man who had violated his parole. The mood in the city had been calming after the tense and uneasy week when the tragic shootings took place.
Atlanta said later that the 22-year-old black man, Marcus Wayne Chenault, of Dayton, Ohio, had also been charged with two counts of murder, one assault, and the act of carrying a concealed weapon.
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