September 4, 2001 - United Methodist News Service: Ecuador RPCV John Quinn slain in Honduras

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Ecuador RPCV John Quinn slain in Honduras

Ecuador RPCV John Quinn slain in Honduras

United Methodist humanitarian worker slain in Honduras

Sept. 4, 2001 News media contact: Thomas S. McAnally? (615)742-5470? Nashville, Tenn. {370}

NOTE: A photograph is available for use with this story.

A UMNS Feature

By Tom McAnally*

John Quinn did more, saw more, and served more in 32 years than most people do in their lifetimes.

But his life ended abruptly Saturday, Aug. 25, when he became the 13th American slain in Honduras in the past two years. He was shot in the head in a dispute with two men over the earlier theft of his compact disc collection. The men, ages 19 and 22, are being held in connection with the shooting.

Quinn was reared in Franklin Lakes (N.J.) United Methodist Church. His mother, Lori Quinn of Wyckoff, N.J., said the church was influential in his life, but his service in the Peace Corps was pivotal. "Once he saw poverty in Ecuador, he wanted to do something about it. He was dedicated and driven to make a difference."

Quinn served two years in Ecuador; worked as an intern in Mozambique; served with Crisis Corps in Guatemala; and worked two years in Peru before going to Honduras in 1999. An outdoorsman, he also traveled extensively throughout the world including Nepal, Tibet and Kenya, as well as many of the U.S. national parks.

An honor student, Quinn graduated in 1991 from the University of Vermont in Burlington, where he studied pre-med and animal science. He earned an advanced degree in public health in international health and epidemiology in 1998 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Quinn had just returned to Honduras after completing a two-year stint in December constructing houses for victims of Hurricane Mitch. Mrs. Quinn recalls her son's words before he returned to Central America: "We built houses," he said, "but now I must go back to build lives."

The motivation for his return, and the focus of the program he was developing for a Washington-based nonprofit foundation, was to keep young children from joining gangs. "If children reach the age of 12, it is too late," Mrs. Quinn quoted her son as saying.

She thinks her son's anti-gang work may have contributed to his death. "There are 90,000 kids in violent gangs in Honduras, and they have no respect for life," she said.

Quinn left New Jersey on July 11 and drove to Honduras, arriving there July 25. "He was doing well," his mother recalls. "He had been down in April to set things up. He was starting to find volunteers and was happy with the project thus far."

Piecing together various reports from Honduras, Mrs. Quinn said the shooting occurred in Puerto Cortes, in a bar where her son was relaxing with friends. Two men reportedly entered the bar, one of whom had purchased furniture from Quinn when he left Honduras in December. Quinn had reason to suspect that the men had stolen his prized CD collection two weeks earlier, his mother said. When Quinn confronted the man, one allegedly took out a .22-caliber pistol and shot him twice, hitting him in the forehead and chest.

"I think he was working against the gangs, trying to keep children from joining," Mrs. Quinn said. "Gang members have little regard for life. I believe this was a gang-related death. If John saw somebody in trouble, he would give them the shirt off his back. He was too trusting. He couldn't distance himself from evil."

U.S. Embassy reports say Quinn was the third American slain in recent weeks. Christopher Lamora, a spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, told the Bergen (N.J.) Record that the U.S. Embassy has serious concern about the effectiveness of Honduras' law enforcement and judicial systems. Associated Press reports that U.S. authorities have issued warnings to the 12,000 U.S. citizens living in Honduras regarding the crimes, most of which were committed by juveniles.

The embassy has called on Honduran authorities to publicly do more to solve the killing of U.S. citizens in Honduras, according to the Record.

A memorial celebration was held for Quinn in Honduras, his mother said. Memorial services are planned for 7:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at Grace United Methodist Church in Wyckoff. He is survived by his mother; a brother, Connor; and two sisters, Judith Moore and Corey Zielman.

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*McAnally is director of United Methodist News Service, the church's official news agency headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., with offices in New York and Washington.

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Story Source: United Methodist News Service

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ecuador; Obituaries; Service



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