[USA TODAY] A former maintenance man at Creflo Dollar’s mega-church who allegedly strolled in during a Wednesday morning prayer service and fatally shot the worship leader before calmly walking out have been arrested, authorities say.
U.S. marshals arrested 52-year-old Floyd Palmer at a Macy’s store in Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon, WXIA-TV reports.
Palmer has a criminal record in Maryland. He pleaded guilty to assault and carrying a handgun in January 2004 in Baltimore.
The 10 a.m. shooting rocked the 30,000-member congregation of World Changers Church International whose charismatic pastor, Creflo Dollar, is one of the USA’s most renown mega church pastors. Dollar was not at the church at the time, police said.
According to police, Palmer calmly walked into the worship service and fired multiple times at the 39-year-old worship leader, a church volunteer, but did not strike any of the other 20-25 people.
Fulton County officials confirmed that the victim was Greg McDowell, WXIA-TV reported earlier. Investigators said McDowell was on stage and leading a prayer when he was shot at point-blank range.
“The suspect walked into the church in a calm fashion,” said Cpl. Kay Lester, a Fulton County police spokeswoman. “He walked in, opened fire, and left as calmly as he came.”
WXIA reported the suspect was wearing a suit and tie at the time of the shooting. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted a witness, Karen Webb, as saying the victim was shot six times.
Lester said police were still investigating whether the shooter went to the church specifically to attack the worship leader.
“We do not know if the victim was targeted,” she said.
Palmer had worked as a facilities maintenance employee at the church until around August. There are no clear indications yet of how he left.
43-year-old Linda Pritchett, and a 10-year-member of World Changers, said the church has both uniformed and plainclothes security workers on duty at all times. She said she came to the church Wednesday morning after someone called her after hearing about the shooting.
“They called me because they know I’m always up here,” she said. “That person had to be extremely disturbed or have a serious problem in their life. They had to be extremely desperate.”
Dollar, 50, is founder and senior pastor of World Changers, which has satellite churches in cities around the nation. Dollar was the subject of a media flurry in June after he was arrested for “spanking” his 15-year-old daughter. He denied any impropriety and said he “should never have been arrested.”
Church members were struggling to understand what happened in their place of sanctuary.
“It’s very upsetting when your own member would come and do such a thing,” said Marcia Lowe, a member since 1996 who was late to Wednesday morning’s service only because she stopped at the post office. “Pastor has been preaching that the enemy will try to destroy us. This will not stop us.”