March 8, 2009
Pastor Shot and Killed During Sunday Sermon
Two congregants wounded as they tackle gunman to the ground.
A pastor was shot and killed during his sermon today at a church in a village in Illinois, the Associated Press reports. The pastor deflected the first round of bullets with his Bible, which the 150 congregants initially thought was a skit.
The gunman strode down the aisle of the sprawling First Baptist Church shortly after 8 a.m. and briefly spoke with The Rev. Fred Winters, then pulled out a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol and began firing until it jammed, Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent said. Churchgoers wrestled the gunman to the ground as he waved a knife, slashing himself and two other people, Trent said.
The pastor was standing on an elevated platform to deliver his sermon about finding happiness in the workplace before the shooting happened, the AP writes.
Authorities didn't know whether Winters, a married father of two who had led the church for nearly 22 years, knew the gunman. Police described the gunman as a 27-year-old from nearby Troy but would not release his name pending possible charges.
This evening, the congregants gathered for prayer, as the pastor's colleague urged mourners to be resilient after the "attack from the forces of hell."
One of the last shootings in a church took place at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where a man opened fire in a parking lot.