COLD SPRING (AP) -- The Rev. Cletus Connors lashed out in his Sunday sermon at handguns in the aftermath of shootings at Rocori High School on Wednesday where one student was killed and another was critically wounded.
"I am angry that we allow handguns all over the place and that we make them available to people who don't (ordinarily) have them," Connors said in an urgent but even voice during his 15-minute homily at St. Boniface Catholic Church, where he is pastor.
"What is the point of handguns? I know it's (waterfowl) hunting season, and deer-hunting season is going to start, and people insist on rifles. But handguns: Why do we need those?"
Rocori freshman Jason McLaughlin, 15, has been charged in Stearns County Juvenile Court with second-degree murder in the death of Aaron Rollins, a 17-year-old senior. The second victim, freshman Seth Bartell, 14, remained in critical condition at St. Cloud Hospital.
McLaughlin allegedly fired a .22-caliber pistol before a teacher subdued him. It's not known where he got the gun.
Between masses, Connors said that he "wasn't a bandwagon jumper for political causes," but that the shootings had changed that.
Not everyone in the pews agreed with his view on handguns.
"If a person wants to commit a crime, he'll find a gun, regardless," said Lloyd Kiess of Cold Spring, arriving early to sing tenor in the choir.
About 700 people attended each of Sunday's two masses at St. Boniface, about an average turnout, Connors said.
Many parishioners spoke of the day of the shootings as an important marker in their lives.
"I shook just like this," said Lila Klein, from nearby Richmond, fluttering her arms and hands in front of her. "I didn't stop until I'd gone to the school and was holding my son again."
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