MARYVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A gunman killed a minister during a church service Sunday morning and two members of the congregation were injured, Illinois state police said.
Master Trooper Ralph Timmins said the man walked down the aisle
during the early service at First Baptist Church in Maryville, a suburb of St. Louis, Mo.
He said the man exchanged words with pastor Fred Winters, pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and shot Winters once, fatally wounding him, before the gun jammed.
The attacker then pulled out a knife and wounded himself.
Churchgoers tried to subdue the attacker and two of them suffered minor injuries, Timmins said.
Timmins said officials didn't know if Winters and the suspect knew each other.
Winters, a father of two who had led First Baptist for nearly 22 years, was the former president of the Illinois Baptist State Association and an adjunct professor for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, according to the church's Web site.
"Our great God is not surprised by this, or anything," Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association, said in a statement. "That He allows evil and free will to have their way in tragedies like this is a mystery in many ways. But we know we can trust Him no matter what, and draw close to Him in any circumstances."
Maryville is about 20 miles northeast of St. Louis.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)