Witness describes church gun terror

A man armed with a handgun opened fire during an evangelical church service at a suburban Milwaukee hotel, killing seven people before taking his own life, police said.

A man armed with a handgun opened fire during an evangelical church service at a suburban Milwaukee hotel, killing seven people before taking his own life, police said.

Two teenagers and a 72-year-old man were among the victims.

At least two church groups were holding meetings in the Sheraton hotel at the time of the shootings, police said.

The victims were all in the same room yesterday afternoon where officers found the bodies of four people and the gunman.

Three others died later at a hospital, Brookfield Police Chief Daniel Tushaus said.

“There is nobody else being sought at this time as a suspect,” he said.

The suspect, whose name was not immediately released, was affiliated with the Living Church of God, which had been meeting at the hotel every Saturday morning for four or five years. The group is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Chandra Frazier, who was at the church service, said the gunman started shooting shortly after it began, and that he even stopped to reload.

Frazier said she was sitting in front of a “family he mowed down”.

“It was mayhem,” she told reporters outside the hotel. ”I dove under a chair, the man whose chair I dove under died. I’m asking myself why am I still alive.”

Tushaus did not identify the victims but gave approximate ages. Two boys ages 15 and 17, a 72-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman died at the hotel. Three men ranging in age from 44 to 58 died later at a hospital.

Four other people were hospitalised in serious condition.

Waukesha County’s emergency dispatch centre was flooded with emergency calls after the shooting, County Executive Dan Finley said.

Some hotel guests remained locked in their rooms after police surrounded the building and would not allow anyone to enter or leave.

“We train for these incidents all the time and we hope against hope they never happen, but today was one of those days,” Finley said.

After the shootings, police removed a pickup truck from the hotel parking lot.

New Berlin Mayor Telesfore Wysocki said police told him the gunman lived in his community just south of Brookfield.

The gunman lived with his mother and sister, who were being interviewed by officers as police collected evidence at their house, Wysocki said.

“We are in total shock and disbelief,” the mayor said.

Investigators searched a two-story house in New Berlin, but authorities declined to comment on whether it was connected to the shootings.

At the hotel, a small memorial took shape last night. Someone placed a red and white cross in a snow bank in front of the building. Another person left two stuffed animals and a note.

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