Gunman kills 3 at church

The congregation was held hostage until the shooter turned himself in.
Monday, August 13, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:38 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

NEOSHO — A gunman opened fire in the sanctuary of a southwest Missouri church Sunday, killing three people and wounding several others, authorities said.

About 25 to 50 people were briefly held hostage at the First Congregational Church until the gunman surrendered, Neosho spokeswoman Desiree Bridges said.

Dave McCracken, Neosho police chief, estimated that four or five people were wounded, but several others who were injured fled the scene.

The shooter was being held at the Newton County Jail, but police were not releasing any information about him. Bridges said the suspect was related to someone in the church, but declined to elaborate. No charges had been filed as of Sunday, McCracken said.

McCracken said the gunman had two small-caliber handguns and one 9 mm semi-automatic machine pistol with a large magazine. The shooting followed the 1 p.m. service.

The gunman surrendered to authorities after about 10 minutes of negotiation.

McCracken said he could not confirm if the gunman was a member of the church. But he said an incident that happened Saturday involving the gunman and a family that attended the church fueled the incident Sunday.

“At this point though, we don’t have any information more than that,” McCracken said.

McCracken said the identities of the deceased were being withheld.

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