Incident Summary:

04/19/1980: Three Ku Klux Klansmen, shot four black women, who were standing in crowd on a downtown street corner in predominantly black community in Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States. The Klansmen, William Church (imperial wizard of the Justice Knights of the Ku Klux Klan), Larry Payne, and Marshall Thrash, fired the shots from a shotgun, while driving by in a car shortly after setting two wooden crosses on fire just a few blocks away. The women were wounded, but all treated for their injuries and survived. This incident occurred during a time of racial tensions in the community. All three Klansmen were brought to trial on four counts of assault with intent to commit murder; Church and Payne were acquitted by an all-white jury, and Thrash was convicted of the shooting and sentenced to 20 months in prison and a fine.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:



Location Details:
at crowd on downtown street corner in predominantly black community

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity
Specific Description four black women; Lela May Evaes, Kathline Johnson, Viola S. Ellison, Opal Lee Jackson
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Unknown
Extent of Property Damage Unknown
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Firearms Rifle/Shotgun (non-automatic)
Weapon Details
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Additional Information Two crosses were burned just a few blocks from where the shooting occurred, and the men were also charged in a separate incident on the same night where shots were fired into a parked car and the shattered glass wounded a black woman nearby.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Ku Klux Klan No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 3
Number of Captured Perpetrators 3
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 4 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 4
Number of U.S. Injured 4
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
"Klansmen Held in Shootings," New York Times, April 19, 1980.
"Klansmen Arrested in Shooting," The Washington Post, April 20, 1980.
"Klansman Convicted, 2 Freed In Wounding of Black Women," The Washington Post, July 23, 1980.