3 people dead after shooting at Iowa church parking lot

People console each other after a shooting outside Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, US, on June 2, 2022.
PHOTO: Reuters

AMES, IOWA - A man shot and killed two women in the parking lot of a church in Iowa state on Thursday (June 2) and then turned the gun on himself, police said, adding three more dead to the toll in a series of recent shootings that have rocked the United States.

The shooting took place shortly after President Joe Biden delivered a major address on gun violence in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in recent weeks.

Another shooting on Thursday wounded two people attending a burial at cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin.  

The Iowa shooting took place outside Cornerstone Church, a fundamentalist Christian church east of the city of Ames, while a church programme was on inside, said Mr Nicholas Lennie, chief deputy of the Story County Sheriff’s Office.  

When deputies arrived on scene they found all three dead, Mr Lennie said, adding that he could not provide identities nor disclose what the relationship between them may have been.  

“This appears to be an isolated, single-shooter incident,” Mr Lennie said.

Moments before, Mr Biden urged Congress to ban assault weapons, expand background checks and implement other gun control measures to address the mass shootings.  

“Enough, enough!,” he said.  

The United States has been shaken in recent weeks by the mass shootings that killed 10 Black residents in upstate New York, 19 children and two teachers in Texas, and two doctors, a receptionist and a patient in Oklahoma.  

In Racine, Wisconsin, on Thursday, multiple gunshots were fired into a crowd of mourners attending an afternoon grave-side funeral, wounding two people, Racine police Sergeant Kristi Wilcox told reporters.  

One victim was treated at a local hospital and released, the other was flown to a Milwaukee hospital, apparently suffering more serious injuries, Wilcox said. No suspect was taken into custody.

Milwaukee television station TMJ4 News, citing family members attending the graveside service, said five relatives of the man who was being buried at the time were struck by gunfire.

The police department in Racine, Wisconsin, reported on Twitter that multiple gunshots were fired at Graceland Cemetery. 
PHOTO: Twitter/Photosbynated

A man who lives across the street from the cemetery, Mr Rey Brantley, told the TV station he was picking his daughter up from school when he heard gunfire, and that his son was playing basketball nearby and came close to being shot.

"Who in their right mind would go and shoot up a funeral in broad daylight," Mr Brantley said in an on-camera interview. "Those people were attending a funeral."

His son Trey said he heard "bullets whistling past us" and ran for cover with others.

TMJ4 reported that a nearby hospital was placed under a security lockdown and that a high school dismissed its students about 10 minutes later than usual, after law enforcement assured school officials it was safe to do so.

There was no word on whether any suspect had been identified. Police urged members of the public to assist investigators by coming forward with any video footage they might have of the incident.

An 18-year-old avowed white supremacist armed with a semiautomatic weapon killed 10 people, most of them black, at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on May 14, in what the authorities said was a racially motivated attack.

The suspect in the Buffalo shooting, who surrendered to police, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to 25 counts in an indictment returned by a grand jury.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.