Gunman Opens Fire in Mormon Church


Police arrested a Nevada man Sunday after he allegedly walked into a Mormon church and a shot and killed one man and wounded another.

Police identified the suspect as 48-year-old John K. O’Connor, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fallon, Nevada.

O’Connor is suspected of walking into the church during Sunday services and opening fire, killing 61-year-old Charles E. Miller and wounding another before walking back to his home.

“Officers and sheriff’s deputies surrounded the home while a hostage negotiator called in,” said Fallon City Police Chief Kevin Gehman in an official statement, according to CNN.  “After placing phone calls to the home, Mr. O’Connor agreed to exit the property and surrendered to officers.”

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“It is too early to understand the motive, but initially, it does not appear to have been directed at the church, but an individual victim,” Gehman added.

At least 50 people witnessed the shooting. Gehman said the weapon appeared to be a handgun of mid-size caliber.

Witnesses alleged that the gunman waited until the sacrament service had ended and, as the first speaker began preaching, walked through the chapel’s west door and fired at point blank range at Miller, known to many as “Bert.”

Those present described hearing at least four to five shots.

“Pandemonium broke out,” said ward member Steve White, according to Deseret News. “People were screaming and hitting the ground.”

O’Connor had reportedly known Miller for years, and witnesses to the shooting were left grasping for possible reasons as to why anyone would want to murder Miller.

“I don’t know why you’d ever want to shoot Bert Miller. He’s the nicest guy in the world,” said ward member Rich Hutchings, according to Deseret. “It’s absolutely shocking.”

Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for the Mormon church, issued a statement expressing grief over the tragedy and love for the victims’ families.

“We express our love to those in this congregation and our prayers for the victims and their families. Local leaders are ministering to them at this time,” Hawkins said, according to KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City.

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Police said Sunday that O’Connor is being held at Churchill County Jail and has yet to be formally charged.

The name of the person wounded during the shooting has yet to be released, but KSTU reports the person was treated at a hospital and released.

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