Gunman opens fire at Jehovah’s Witness hall

A masked man opened fire on a group of worshippers outside the Jehovah’s Witnesses Assembly Hall last night, wounding a 36-year-old woman.

The victim, who has not been identified, was shot multiple times and was transported to a hospital with non life-threatening wounds, Columbia police said. She has since been released.

The suspect is thought to be a man between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-9, weighing roughly 160 pounds. The man, whose race is unknown, was wearing all dark clothing with a ski mask over his face, said Sgt. Ken Hammond of the Columbia Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit.

Police aren’t sure yet whether the shooter was waiting for the victim to exit the hall.

“We have no indication to believe this individual was specifically targeted,” Hammond said. “That being said, we also have indications that there were ample opportunities to fire at other people who had already left the building.”

Four different congregations use the assembly hall throughout the week. Normally, the South Congregation reserves the building from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays, but because of scheduling changes, the Hinkson Creek Congregation’s Theocratic School was there last night.

“It’s just shocking,” said Adela Todaro, a member of the South Congregation who learned of the shooting this morning. “It’s scary. We really don’t know who this guy was or why he started shooting at them.”

Congregations will continue to use the hall this week.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday December 19, 2006.
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