Authorities are searching for a former employee of the World Changers Church who they believe walked into a prayer meeting at the famed megachurch in suburban Atlanta and opened fire, killing the volunteer who was leading the service.
The suspect was identified as Floyd Palmer, 52, who left the church in August, citing personal reasons, Fulton County police spokeswoman Cpl. Kay Lester said by telephone. Palmer, described as armed and dangerous, fled in a black Subaru, she said.
The shooting took place about 10 a.m. when the gunman entered the gold-domed church in College Park, Ga., and went into the chapel, where about two dozen congregants were praying. The gunman fired several shots, one of which hit the prayer leader, who was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, Lester said.
“He went in, walked in calmly, opened fire inside of the church and left as calmly as he came,” she said.
The dead man was identified as Greg McDowell, a 39-year-old volunteer, police said.
Police were still investigating whether the prayer leader was the target or whether there was some other motive, Lester said.
The Rev. Creflo Dollar, the founder of the megachurch, was not there Lester said.
Dollar, known as the prosperity minister for his teachings, is one of the most well-known African American ministers in the nation. He began his ministry in 1986 in a school cafeteria, and with the help of satellite television created an international empire with congregations in Washington, New York and elsewhere.
Dollar has traveled around the globe, bringing his message that Christians should not be ashamed to be rich. The church says it has a membership of more than 30,000.
Officials did not return a telephone call left at the church.