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Former School Gunman Shares How A ‘Gold Cross’ Banished The ‘Voices’ Telling Him To Kill

Thirty-six years after he held students hostage at a Virginia high school, James Quentin Stevens, now known as T.J. Stevens, shares his story of redemption and how he found God in the midst of the evil voices that urged him to kill.

That night before he attacked his school and took 10 people hostage for 21 hours, Stevens wanted to kill himself. He was tired of his life, tired of always living in fear for his mother and siblings because of his stepdad who was an alcoholic. Worse, his girlfriend, the one person he did want to lose, broke up with him.  He wanted out so he loaded his gun and put it in his mouth. But as he was putting pressure on the trigger, he heard a voice telling him to take his anger out on the innocent. This voice gave him a false promise that his pain will go away with each innocent life taken away. The following morning, he took his rifle to his school and started shooting.

“No tears were falling, no emotion, no talking myself out of it,” Stevens recalled during the “Unworthy” episode of I Am Second Conversations. He aimed above the students’ heads as they were running in fear. Stevens remembered telling the negotiator that he would line bodies in the hallway if they don’t do what he wants to be done.

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However, it was when he took students hostage inside a room that everything suddenly changed. He heard the voice again and this time it became many voices, telling him that he is a failure, that he is nothing, and telling him to kill the people inside. Stevens recalled that he fell on his knees and fought the voices. He had decided to kill himself instead. But before he could do so, a woman wearing a necklace with a gold cross pendant stopped him.

“She says ‘You haven’t killed anyone, you’re just a kid. You don’t need to do this.’…As she was rocking back and forth, it was a gold cross dangling from her neck reflecting off the ceiling light piercing my right eye,” Stevens said at that moment everything changed. Emotions overwhelmed him and pain for the hostages and their families overwhelmed him. That sign from God stopped him from killing himself and anyone else in that room.

Stevens said that he would never imagine that God would forgive him for what he has done. He was sentenced to four years in a maximum prison and in two years surrendered his life to Christ. He served time in less than three years.

Now, he gets to share his story in the hopes of letting those who experienced being in his situation, and those who are in pain from losing a loved one to a shooting, know that their pain “does not go unnoticed.” He wants to tell those who have heard the evil voices to stop and listen to God’s call instead because it is never too late to find redemption and to open your heart to God.

Unworthy – I Am Second Conversations

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