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Illinois pastor tried to flee from shooter, according to investigators

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | 1:30 p.m. CDT; updated 3:39 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ST. LOUIS — An Illinois pastor gunned down during his sermon at a suburban church tried to run from his assailant before being shot through the heart, according to an investigator's affidavit filed Tuesday.

Illinois State Police detective James Walker's account offered an increasingly clearer picture of the Rev. Fred Winters' final encounter with accused gunman Terry Sedlacek at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., before the preacher collapsed and bled to death as horrified churchgoers looked on Sunday.

Sedlacek, 27, of nearby Troy, was charged Monday with first-degree murder and aggravated battery, the latter charges related to his wounding with a knife two congregants who wrestled him to the ground and subdued him after the shooting.

Sedlacek remained in serious condition Tuesday in a St. Louis hospital with self-inflicted stab wounds to the throat. One of the injured congregants, Terry Bullard, was upgraded to fair condition.

Investigators say they still haven't pinpointed why Sedlacek allegedly strolled into the church during its early service Sunday, packing a .45-caliber Glock pistol and 30 bullets — 10 in each of the three magazines he brought along for it.

According to Walker's affidavit, Sedlacek entered the sanctuary and walked down an aisle to the front of the church toward a pulpit, where Winters, 45, addressed him.

Walker wrote that Sedlacek then fired at Winters; investigators have said that bullet clipped the top of the Bible the preacher held, sending pieces of it spraying like confetti and appearing to many of the roughly 150 onlookers as a skit.

Winters then bolted toward the edge of the stage with Sedlacek running parallel to him, Walker wrote.

"Pastor Winters then jumped from the stage where he landed on the ground. Sedlacek then placed himself next to the pastor and fired multiple shots, striking Winters," Walker's affidavit read.

Investigators have said Sedlacek fired four rounds altogether, striking Winters only once, before his gun jammed. After chasing and mortally wounding Winters, Walker wrote, Sedlacek tried to flee but was subdued by Bullard and Keith Melton.

It remained unclear whether Sedlacek even knew Winters, a married father of two who led the First Baptist Church for nearly 22 years.

However, authorities have said Sedlacek appeared to have planned the attack, as he referred to Sunday as "death day" on a planner found in his home and carried enough ammunition to kill 30 people.

Madison County State's Attorney William Mudge did not have any other details on the day planner entry.

"The only thing I can really comment on is he came armed with many rounds of ammunition and a knife, and I think we can surmise that more bloodshed may have occurred," Mudge said.

Sedlacek's attorney, Ron Slemer, told the Belleville News-Democrat on Monday that his client has deteriorated both mentally and physically since contracting Lyme disease. Slemer has not returned numerous messages left by The Associated Press at his home and office.

Slemer said his client's family is "very sorry for the pastor's congregation."

First Baptist Associate Pastor Mark Jones said one of the church's pastors visited with Sedlacek's family Monday.

"We actually pray for him," Jones said.

 


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