- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) — Police have found no clear motive for why a man opened fire with a handgun during an evangelical church service at a hotel, killing seven persons before taking his own life.

Investigators found no suicide note or any other documents that could tell them what led Terry Ratzmann to the shooting rampage Saturday in this Milwaukee suburb, Brookfield Police Chief Daniel Tushaus said yesterday.

However, officials said they were looking into reports that Ratzmann became upset during a church service a few weeks ago and walked out, and that he also might have been on the verge of losing his job.

Ratzmann, 44, fired 22 shots, stopping once to reload, and then shot himself in the head at the Sheraton Hotel, Chief Tushaus said.

About 50 people were sitting in a meeting room when Ratzmann walked in from the back and started firing, Chief Tushaus said. Witnesses told police he didn’t say anything before he fired.

“At this point, we’re unable to determine if he had specific targets or he just shot at random,” police Capt. Phil Horter said.

At one point during the shooting, a friend of Ratzmann’s confronted him and pleaded with him to stop shooting, Capt. Horter said.

“There were a few more rounds fired, and at that point the suspect took his life,” Capt. Horter said.

Police searched Ratzmann’s home in New Berlin, about two miles from the hotel, and seized three computers and a rifle, Capt. Horter said. Capt. Horter said Ratzmann might have been about to lose his job, but investigators would not identify where he worked.

Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said he did not know why Ratzmann walked out of a recent church service.

“Something upset him,” Mr. Bucher said.

Ratzmann was affiliated with the Living Church of God, which had been meeting at the hotel every Saturday morning for four or five years.

The born-again denomination focuses on “end-time” prophecies, and places a strong emphasis on using world news to “prove” that these are the end times.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based group called the shooting “a terrible tragedy.”

“We are cooperating with the authorities to find out what happened,” the group said on its Web site (www.livingcog.org).

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