Police say an adult man shot and killed two female victims, then took his own life, in a parking lot outside Ames’ Cornerstone Church Thursday night.
The suspected shooter appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Story County Sheriff Capt. Nicholas Lennie said, although that part of the investigation is ongoing. The ages of the two women were not immediately known.
Lennie said several 911 calls came in at 6:51 pm as a program was going on at church. The church hosts a regular Thursday evening event for its youth ministry, the Salt Company.
Officials said the shooting happened in the parking lot of the church as others were inside. Hours later there were still people inside the church as well as in the parking lot.
Law enforcement officials on Thursday did not release details on the weapon used in the shooting. Lennie said there was not an ongoing threat to the public.
“I wouldn’t say I’m shocked as law enforcement,” Lennie said. “We prepare and we train hard for this, but when it happens, it’s obviously chaotic until you get it under control.”
Officials will hold a news conference on the shooting at 10:30 am Friday, Lennie said.
“I would also like to take a moment to take a moment to just extend our condolences to those involved, the victims involved, the families, the witnesses that were here at the church,” Lennie told reporters earlier Thursday evening. “And our hearts are with them as well at this time.”
Govt. Kim Reynolds said the shooting was an “act of senseless violence.”
“Tonight’s act of senseless violence took the lives of two innocent victims at their place of worship. Kevin and I grieve for the families who have suffered an unfathomable loss, the governor said on Twitter. “And while the investigation continues and we learn more, we ask that Iowans pray for the victims and their families, the members of Cornerstone Church, and the entire Ames community.”
Ames, 30 miles north of Des Moines, is the center of a metro area of 126,195 and is the home of Iowa State University, the nation’s first land-grant institution of higher learning. It’s also home to major research facilities of the US Department of Agriculture, as well as numerous ag-related industries, including Renewable Energy Group, a biodiesel company Chevron recently acquired for $3.15 billion.
Cornerstone Church, a megachurch with dozens of staff, is located at the intersection of US Highway 30 and Interstate 35 in Ames. The church sits just south of Lake Wesley.
The church is also framed by CrossRoad Baptist Church and the Iowa Department of Transportation Maintenance Garage. Beyond that are sprawling fields. Across the street from the church is the 3ts All Star Sports Academy. To its west, on the other side of I-35, are DMACC Career Academy and Durham School Services, as well as a handful of businesses.
The church, according to its website, was founded in 1994 from a college ministry at ISU called The Salt Company, which is still the name of the church’s university ministry.
The Cornerstone website says it is now a “multigenerational church with a passion to reach the next generation of college students with the Gospel.”
The Salt Company’s website says that about 1,300 students gather to worship at Cornerstone every Thursday night during the school year.
The shooting in Ames follows several high-profile mass shootings. Ten people were killed at Buffalo, New York, grocery store on May 14. Twenty-one people — including 19 students — were killed at a Uvalde, Texas school on May 24. And four people were killed at a Tulsa, Oklahoma medical building Wednesday .
Earlier on Thursday, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass sweeping gun control legislation.