A quiet day at Howsmon’s business quickly turned chaotic. A gunman had opened fire inside the church’s sanctuary, killing three people and wounding at least five more. The suspect reportedly brought three firearms into the church, ordered the children out, then opened fire. Police arrested him after a short standoff.
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"There were still hostages inside, and it wasn’t secured," Howsmon said of the scene that unfolded in front of her as she reached the street. As police set up a perimeter around the church, Howsmon told a neighbor who was headed across the street to be careful.
Within 30 minutes, police began to lead hostages from the historic red-brick church to the safety of Howsmon’s basement-level pizza restaurant.
"It was 100 degrees out there, so more than anything it was to get them out of the heat," Howsmon said. "At that time we didn’t know if he (the gunman) was secured and it was just to get them off the street."
Howsmon said that at least 17 people who were inside the church during the shootings ended up in the restaurant, Kansas City Star reports.
The gunman held approximately 25 to 50 people hostage before surrendering after 10 minutes of negotiation, CNN reported.
According Police Chief Dave McCracken, the gunman had two small-caliber handguns and one 9 mm semiautomatic machine pistol with a large magazine.
The shooter was being held at the Newton County Jail, but police were not releasing any information about him.
Police say the gunman is linked to someone in the Church.
The identities of the deceased were being withheld, McCracken said, Ontario Now informs.