Shooting Outside Church Leaves Three Dead, Including Gunman: Police

A gunman who police said opened fire in a church parking lot in central Iowa, killing two people, is also dead.

Authorities said the shooting happened Thursday evening at the Cornerstone Church just outside of Ames, Iowa, a city of about 66,000, north of Des Moines. Law enforcement released few other details regarding the attack, which comes on the heels of highly publicized shootings in Texas and upstate New York.

Story County Sheriff Captain Nicholas Lennie told Newsweek in an interview that at about 6:51 p.m. local time, several calls came in from people at the church, reporting a gunman in the parking lot who had shot two people.

Of the three people killed, one was identified as the male shooter and the two victims as females, Lennie said.

"We don't know at this point what the relationship between the suspect and the victims are," he said. "So we're still investigating that part of it."

Police Tape
Three are dead after a shooting in a church parking lot outside Ames, Iowa. Police released few details on the shooting, which follows a string of other deadly gun attacks in the U.S. Katherine Forbes/Getty Images

While there were people inside the church, some of whom witnessed the incident, there have been no other injuries, Lennie said.

Other details about the three deceased and the weapon used were not available Thursday night, he added. More information will be released Friday morning at a press conference at the sheriff's office, according to Lennie.

Cornerstone Church, a megachurch on Interstate 35, describes itself online as "a multi-generational church with a passion to reach the next generation of college students with the Gospel."

The church states on its website that it grew out of a church ministry launched in 1994 at Iowa State University in Ames called "The Salt Company," which is still the name of its college program.

The Salt Company's website states that about 1,300 students gather every Thursday during the school year for biblical teaching and worship services. The program was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Thursday in the church's south auditorium, according to the church's Facebook page.

The church parking lot shooting follows a string of other deadly incidents since a gunman killed 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, which police said was racially motivated.

Another gunman last week killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, in the worst school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Since the shooting in Uvalde, 17 new mass shootings occurred within a week afterward, according to Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit research group.

The same night as the shooting in Iowa, President Joe Biden made a plea for gun control measures in a national speech.