- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 12, 2005

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) — A gunman opened fire yesterday at a church service being held at a hotel, killing seven persons before taking his own life, authorities said.

Officers found four persons and the gunman dead when they arrived about 1 p.m. at the Sheraton hotel. Three others died later at a hospital, said Daniel Tushaus, chief of the Brookfield Police Department.

“There is nobody else being sought at this time as a suspect,” he said.

The victims were all in the same room at the hotel, Chief Tushaus said. The suspect, who was about 45, was armed with a handgun and was affiliated with the church, which had been meeting at the hotel every Saturday morning for four or five years.

Chief Tushaus did not identify the victims, but gave approximate ages. Two boys ages 15 and 17, a 72-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman died at the hotel. Three men ranging in age from 44 to 58 died later at a hospital.

Four other persons were hospitalized in serious condition.

Some hotel guests remained locked in their rooms after police surrounded the building and would not allow anyone to enter or leave.

Karen Suick, 48, said she arrived at the hotel Friday night with 15 players and parents for a hockey tournament.

“One of our hockey dad’s two daughters are still in there,” she said. “They called his cell phone. They were OK, but they were told to go back to their room. So that’s what they did.”

After the shootings, police removed a pickup truck from the hotel parking lot.

Officers also searched a two-story house in the neighboring community of New Berlin, but investigators refused to comment on whether the home was connected to the shootings.

New Berlin Mayor Telesfore Wysocki said police told him the gunman lived in that neighborhood with his mother and sister, who were being interviewed by officers as police collected evidence at the man’s house.

“We are in total shock and disbelief,” the mayor said.

Authorities said they would not release any more information about the shootings until a press conference this morning.

At least two church groups were holding meetings in the hotel at the time of the shootings, police said.

The shootings took place during a meeting of the Living Church of God, a group based in Charlotte, N.C.

“We don’t even know all that has gone on, but it’s devastating,” said Lara Prejean, a church member who lives in Monroe, N.C.

Brookfield is a western suburb of Milwaukee.

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