2:41PM EDT October 24. 2012 -Larry Copeland, USA TODAY
COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — Police are searching for a former employee who they say calmly walked into a prayer service at one of the nation’s largest megachurches Wednesday morning, fatally shot the 39-year-old worship leader at point-blank range and fled.
Police withheld the name of the victim, a volunteer staffer who was leading 20 to 25 people at morning service at the Rev. Creflo Dollar’s World Changers Church International.
Fulton County police spokeswoman Cpl. Kay Lester said the victim was hit multiple times, but that it was not immediately clear whether he was specifically targeted. No one else was injured in the shooting.
The suspect, Floyd Palmer, 52, worked at the church until around August, Lester said. He is believed to have fled the scene in a black Subaru wagon.
“He is considered armed and dangerous,” she said.
Lester said Palmer “walked calmly into the church and left just as calmly,” after the shooting.
WXIA-TV reports that the gunman was wearing a suit and tie at the time of the shooting.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quotes a witness, Karen Webb, as saying the victim was shot six times.
As news of the shooting spread, some of the 30,000 members of the congregation rushed to the church campus south of Atlanta near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
“It’s very upsetting when your own member would come and do such a thing,” said Marcia Lowe, who is in her 50s and was late to service only because she had to stop at the post office.
The church, founded in 1986 by Creflo, who is also senior pastor, is one of the largest in the United States. Lester said Dollar was not at the church Wednesday morning.
Schools in the area were locked down for about an hour after the shooting.