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Police: 5 dead in Louisiana church shooting

AP, via CNN.com, USA
May 21, 2006
edition.cnn.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Monday May 22, 2006

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (AP) — A man opened fire Sunday morning at a church, fatally wounding four people before abducting his wife, whom he later shot to death at another location, authorities said.

The suspect, Anthony Bell, 25, of Baton Rouge, was captured at an apartment complex near the church. Three children abducted with the woman were all found safe.

“This is going to be one of the worst days in the history of our city,” Police Chief Jeff Leduff said after Bell was captured and his wife’s body was found at the apartment complex.

Police did not identify the dead, but church member Kenneth Green who watched and wept from a nearby building as investigators examined evidence at the church, said he was related to all of the victims.

He said his mother, Deloris McGrew, his cousin Darleen Mills, and his aunt and uncle, Gloria and Leonard Howard were killed. He said he also is a cousin of Bell’s slain wife, whom he identified as Erica Bell.

He said Erica Bell’s mother, church pastor Claudia Brown, was wounded. Her condition was not available.

Green said he was not in the church at the time of the shooting.

The wife’s body was found at the apartment complex but it was unclear whether she was killed there. Authorities said neither Bell nor his wife lived at the complex.

Investigators did not know the motive for the shooting at The Ministry of Jesus Christ church.

“This is senseless. This is a total waste of human life,” Leduff said.

The small church shares space in an old warehouse with a guitar shop in a nonresidential area of Baton Rouge. Bell is believed to have entered and opened fire shortly before services were to end around 10 a.m.

After shooting five people, Bell fled with his wife and with three children, including an infant, police said. The two older children were found safely at a residence.

Hours later, police responding to a 911 call about a shooting cordoned off the apartment complex. Officers found the woman dead and Bell holding the baby, Leduff said. Bell was arrested without incident.

At first police said the three children belonged to the couple. They later said it was unclear whether Bell was the father of all three.

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