Church shooting suspect had arsenal in bedroom

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 | 11:05 a.m. CDT; updated 12:03 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ST. LOUIS — A man accused of running down and shooting an Illinois pastor to death mid-sermon left an arsenal of guns in his bedroom as well as an index card marked "Last Day Will."

The arsenal in accused gunman Terry Sedlacek's room included two 12-gauge shotguns, a rifle and a box of 550 .22-caliber bullets, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

The inventory of items seized from Sedlacek's Troy, Ill., home also lists the "Last Day Will" index card but does not detail what else was written on it. Sedlacek's day planner also singled out Sunday as "death day," prosecutor William Mudge has said.

Authorities have said Sedlacek, 27, fired four times from a .45-caliber Glock handgun, hitting the Rev. Fred Winters once with a bullet that ripped through the preacher's heart before he collapsed and bled to death Sunday at First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill.

Authorities said Sedlacek also brought to the church enough ammunition to perhaps kill 30 people.

Sedlacek is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery, the latter charges related to his alleged wounding with a knife of 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 Sunday service, packing a pistol and 30 bullets — 10 in each of the three magazines he brought along.

A new affidavit by Illinois State Police detective James Walker said Sedlacek entered the sanctuary and walked down an aisle to the front of the church toward Winters, 45, who addressed him.

Walker wrote that Sedlacek then fired at Winters. Investigators have said the first 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 to be part of 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 before his gun jammed. After chasing and mortally wounding Winters, Walker wrote, Sedlacek tried to flee but was subdued by Bullard and Keith Melton.

"The way I feel in my heart is my pastor needed help and I had to help. I can't relate that back to anything. That's just how I feel about it," Melton said. "I've been in car accidents before where it seems like it's slow motion. But this was over so fast, it's harder to make sense of it."

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

Authorities have not revealed the verbal exchange between the gunman and Winters, who was wearing a microphone. Mudge, Madison County's state's attorney, has listened to the audio recording but won't publicly discuss it, his spokeswoman Stephanee Smith said Tuesday.

Smith also said Sedlacek has previously been issued a firearm owner's identification card, though Illinois State Police spokesman Scott Compton said Sedlacek did not have a valid one.

Sedlacek attended Southwestern Illinois College in Granite City from August 2006 until May 2008, pursuing an associate's degree in computer information systems, but never graduated, registration clerk Julie Boeschen said Tuesday.

Calls to the home he shared with his mother and stepfather went unanswered Tuesday, as have repeated visits to the house since the shooting.

Sedlacek's attorney, Ron Slemer, has told the Belleville News-Democrat that his client's family is "very sorry for the pastor's congregation." Slemer also has said Sedlacek has deteriorated both mentally and physically since contracting Lyme disease.

The attorney has not returned numerous messages left by The Associated Press at his home and office.


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Bill Smith March 11, 2009 | 12:35 p.m.

Two shotguns, a rifle, and 500 rounds of .22 ammo does not equal an "arsenal".

(Report Comment)
James Herring March 11, 2009 | 2:22 p.m.

I agree. In the country thats normal to have in your house. Someone is blowing it out of proportion. Yes, this is a terrible thing; but to say he had an "arsenal" is silly.

(Report Comment)

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