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Police are saying that there was a shooting inside the World Changers Church International on Wednesday morning. Details are sketchy at this point, but reports are that a man entered the church and started shooting. He was well-dressed (for church) and opened fire, killing at least one person. The victim was a member of the church.
Police have identified the shooter as 52-year old former employee Floyd Palmer. Palmer was taken into custody at 4 pm. The victim was 39-year old Gregory McDowell, a volunteer at the church who was leading morning services.
Police say that Palmer resigned from his position as a maintenance man at the church earlier this year.
The church is run by Pastor Creflo Dollar, and the daycare was evacuated after the shooting took place. A nearby elementary school was placed on lockdown right after the incident, but the lockdown was lifted shortly thereafter.
World Changers Church International has 30,000 members, and 6,000 show up for services every week. Pastor Dollar received an honorary doctorate from Oral Roberts University. He held the first worship service for World Changers back in 1986, in the cafeteria of Kathleen Mitchell Elementary School with only eight people in attendance.
His initial collection plate only took in $100, but as of 2007, the church was able to boast annual revenues of $69 million. They now have four services every Sunday and a weekly radio broadcast. The current building holds 8,500 worshippers, cost $18 million dollars and was built without any bank financing whatsoever.
Pastor Dollar’s bold ministry has not been without controversy. He has been heavily criticized for preaching “prosperity gospel,” and living a lifestyle that might be better fit for a hip-hop artist than a pastor. He owns a private jet, as well as at least two homes worth over $1 million dollars. He has refused to disclose his salary and has been accused of unethically hiding his financial holdings and income from the very parishioners who pay for it all.
Dollar became involved in the divorce of Evander Holyfield, after Holyfield’s ex-wife, Janice Itson, claimed that Holyfield gave $7 million to Dollar’s church right before he filed for divorce. Also, Dollar was arrested in June after allegedly punching and choking his 15-year old daughter.