CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Several ministers from Charlotte are heading to Milwaukee to console family members and survivors of Saturday’s brutal hotel shooting that took place during a church service.
The headquarters of that church – the Living Church of God – are based in Charlotte.
Charles Bryce, the director of church administration, has only moments to spare. He is heading to Milwaukee to console the wife of his good friend, Pastor Randy Gregory.
Gregory, his son and five others were killed Saturday when a gunman interrupted services.
“He walked to the back of the room, shot the pastor first and began shooting other people,” Bryce said.
Police say the gunman fired 22 rounds before turning the gun on himself. Bryce says the man –identified by police as Terry Ratzmann – was active in the church.
“He was a single man, 44, quiet and nice; no one would ever think this would happen.”
There were four survivors including the pastor’s wife, who was injured in the shooting
“Completely shocked, I’m continuing to be completely shocked, it’s too hard to describe,” Bryce said.
The small evangelical church has only 7,000 members worldwide. After something like this, the question is: “Can worshippers be safe at church?” Bryce says protection comes from a higher power.
“What are you going to do? Have people armed? Have metal detectors?” he asked. “It’s a church. Our protection comes from God, we do what we can.”
Bryce says it is not unusual for services to be held at hotels, reception halls or community centers. He says their budget is targeted toward helping people and not toward building churches.
Bryce plans on staying in Milwaukee as long as he is needed.
Mar. 13, 2005
Lisa Reyes, News 14 Carolina