Man Approached Pulpit and Fatally Shot Pastor; Stabbed Self and Parishioners
By KATIE ESCHERICH
March 8, 2009
A shooting during a morning church service outside St. Louis has left one person dead -- the church's pastor -- and several others wounded, officials said.
PHOTO: First Baptist Church pastor Fred Winters was killed in a shooting during a service.
Pastor Fred Winters was fatally shot by a gunman during a service Sunday at the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill.
The Rev. Fred Winters was at the pulpit at the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., at 8:15 a.m. local time today when a man wearing dark clothing approached the pulpit and fired four shots, the first of which hit the pastor's Bible, Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent said at a news conference late today.
One of the shots from the gunman's .45 caliber pistol hit Winters in the chest, killing him, before his gun jammed, said Trooper Ralph Timmins of the Illinois State Police, which is handling the investigation.
After his gun jammed, the shooter injured himself with a knife and subsequently was restrained by parishioners, Timmins said in a "preliminary release" left on his office voicemail recording. Approximately 150 people were in the church at the time.
Two parishioners who "tackled" the shooter received "non-life-threatening" injuries from the knife, Timmins said.
Winters was "pronounced [dead] at the hospital for a single gunshot wound to the chest," Timmins said.
Jeremy Kohler, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, told ABC News Radio that there's "a lot of sadness and disbelief out there" -- and members of the community are trying to figure out how it could have happened.
"No one can even fathom a motive for the shooting," Kohler said. "No one really seems to recognize [the shooter] as being a member of the church."
Members of the congregation who spoke to the Post-Dispatch outside the church and the local hospital were moved to tears.
"I'm in shock," Lindsay Osborne, 18, told the paper.
A spokeswoman for Anderson Hospital in Maryville told ABC News it initially received victims of the shooting.
"We received three victims from the church shooting," spokeswoman Natalie Head said. "Two of those victims were transferred from our facility. We are not a trauma facility, so we were transferring them to a higher acuity hospital in St. Louis. And one of those victims was dead on arrival." http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=7033937&page=1