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Gunman Kills 3 at US Church, 5 Wounded
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Authorities expected to announce charges against a gunman who attacked a Missouri church sanctuary on Sunday killing three people and wounding at least five others in the middle of a service for Micronesian worshippers.


The suspect, a man in his 40s from the Pacific islands, ordered children out of the sanctuary before opening fire. He was being held in the Newton County jail pending charges.


Police said the shooting was fueled by an altercation Saturday night between the suspect and a family that belonged to the congregation. It was not clear if the suspect was part of the congregation


The gunman had two small-caliber handguns and one 9 mm semi-automatic machine pistol with a large magazine, McCracken said. The shooting came during the 1 pm service, which was attended by about 50 people, ranging in age from children to the elderly.


One of those killed was Kernal Rehobson, 44, who led the congregation, which was holding a service at the First Congregational Church, police said.


The other two victims were male members of the congregation, who were "what we would call deacons," said Dave McCracken, Neosho police chief. Their names were not released because relatives were still being notified.


He said police were told the five wounded people, all adults, would recover.


The gunman surrendered to authorities after about 10 minutes of negotiation. He had briefly held 25 to 50 people hostage before surrendering


Calls to the church went unanswered.


The church rents out its sanctuary for a service for people from the Micronesian islands in the Pacific. McCracken said Micronesians began arriving in Neosho 20 or 25 years ago to work in the poultry industry and about 200 live in the Neosho area.


Rehobson led the group of Micronesians for about 15 years and ran a Micronesian store out of his house in Goodman, said Larry Zuniga, 42,


The congregants used to meet at Rehobson's house and were using the First Congregational Church for worship while they searched for a permanent home, Zuniga said.


"This is a terrible tragedy which was made worse by the fact that it happened in a peaceful place of faith and worship," Missouri Governor Matt Blunt said in a press release issued Sunday evening.


(China Daily August 14, 2007)

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