Megachurch shooting suspect was committed in Md.

Associated Press Modified: October 25, 2012 at 4:31 am •  Published: October 25, 2012
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COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (AP) — The man suspected of calmly walking into a service at an Atlanta-area megachurch and gunning down a church volunteer leading a prayer was committed eight years ago to a psychiatric hospital after a violent incident in Maryland, court records show.

Police in Georgia said former church worker Floyd Palmer, 51, entered a chapel at World Changers Church International just before 10 a.m. Wednesday and opened fire, killing church volunteer Greg McDowell, 39.

"He walked in calmly, opened fire, and left as calmly," Fulton County Police Cpl. Kay Lester said.

Palmer was a former facilities maintenance employee at the church who resigned in August for "personal reasons," Lester said.

The church's well-known founder and leader, the Rev. Creflo Dollar, was not there at the time.

Palmer was taken into custody without incident a few hours later at a Macy's at a mall in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead neighborhood, Lester said. Police spotted his black Subaru station wagon with tinted windows in the parking lot of Lenox Square. They didn't recover a weapon.

He faces murder and other charges, according to online jail records.

Court records show a man named Floyd Lester Palmer, born on the same day in 1960, was charged in Baltimore in 2001 with attempted murder, assault and handgun charges. He was committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2004 after pleading not criminally responsible to lesser charges. The records show he was released the next year subject to conditions that were to remain in effect for five years.

The court filings include motions by the defense for a dangerousness evaluation, which was later withdrawn.

Details of what led to the charges weren't immediately known. Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department did not have arrest records in the case, which is not unusual in cases where someone has been committed. Palmer's attorney in the case, Kenneth Ravenell, was out of the country on Wednesday, his staff said.

About 20 to 25 people were gathered in the chapel when the shooting happened. No other people were wounded and the gunman fled.

Investigators were working to determine if Palmer and McDowell knew each other.

"We do not know if the victim was targeted," Lester said. "We are looking into that as he was the only person that was shot."

Ken Terry, a pastor at the church who is acting as a spokesman for McDowell's family, said the church family was distraught and trying to comfort McDowell's family.

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