Woman Opens Fire in Church
Atlanta (AP) - A woman opened fire at an Atlanta church before services started Sunday morning, killing her mother and the minister before committing suicide.
Congregants of Turner Monumental AME Church said Shelia W. Chaney Wilson, 43, was agitated when she came to the church, in the Kirkwood neighborhood on the city's east side.
Wilson apparently shot the Rev. Johnny Clyde Reynolds after he greeted her and was walking away with his back to her, said Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley. Police believe Wilson then shot Jennie Mae Robinson once in the head before turning the gun on herself.
One woman in the sanctuary at the time fled after the first shot was fired, and the other took cover behind a pulpit, Quigley said. He said an assistant pastor came in after hearing shots and found the three bodies on the floor.
Wilson's cousin, Nekeshia Burton, said Wilson went to the church early in the morning to talk to Reynolds, 62.
"Something wasn't sitting right with her," Burton said. But Burton said there were no signs that Wilson would become violent.
Assistant Pastor Christy Miller said the pastor had just finished teaching Sunday school and was walking through the sanctuary when he stopped to talk with Wilson and Robinson, 67
Geraldine Andrews, the pastor's daughter-in-law and a friend of Wilson's family, said Robinson recently took her daughter out of a mental health facility.
Debra Mitchell, a member of the church, said Wilson had recently lost her job.
"We knew she has some instability, but we didn't know it was this deep," Mitchell said.
Many remembered Robinson, who taught Bible study, as "a sweet individual, always praying for other people, always doing missionary work," Mitchell said.
The pastor was described as mild-mannered and generous.
"There was nothing too small or too great that he'd do for you," Miller said.
The shootings happened before most worshippers arrived for church. When they got there and heard what had happened, church members sobbed and hugged in front of the building.
"We're such a loving church, a family church," Miller said. "We'll support each other through this."