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Gunman opens fire in church parking lot in Iowa, kills two and himself

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Two young women and the male gunman were killed in a shooting outside an Iowa church on Thursday night.

The shooting happened shortly before 7 p.m. in the parking lot of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa.

A youth ministry program was taking place in the church at the time of the shooting.

A statement from a church representative characterized the victims as “young members” of the church community, although their ages are unknown. The gunman is believed to have shot himself.

The representative described the shooter as an “adult man.”

People comfort each other after the shooting outside Cornerstone Church on Thursday, June 2 in Ames, Iowa

People hug and comfort each other after the shooting outside Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa

People hug and comfort each other after the shooting outside Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa

People hug outside Cornerstone Church after Thursday's shooting.  Two Church members were killed by a gunman in the parking lot

People hug outside Cornerstone Church after Thursday’s shooting. Two Church members were killed by a gunman in the parking lot

Story County Sheriff Capt. Nicholas Lennie said 911 calls reporting the shooting came in at 6:51 p.m. Thursday night.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot while people in the church were attending the Salt Company’s weekly Primary event.

Police say two young women were killed before the gunman died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. None of their ages or identities are known, but a youth ministry representative said the victims were members of the Church.

“We are deeply saddened,” said Mark Vance, of the Salt Company youth ministry at Cornerstone Church, “a tragic shooting occurred tonight involving two young members of our Cornerstone Church community. It is believed that an adult man shot these two victims and then committed suicide.”

Vance declined to provide further details about the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.

Churchgoers reportedly stayed on the grounds and inside the church for hours after the shooting, and photos of the scene show groups of people hugging each other in tears.

Police have not released any information about the weapon used in the shooting or suspected motives.

In a tweet, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds described the shooting as “senseless violence.”

Tonight’s act of senseless violence claimed the lives of two innocent victims in their house of worship. Kevin and I mourn the families who have suffered an unimaginable loss.”

The shooting is the latest in a series of mass shootings that have plagued the US in recent weeks.

On May 14, an 18-year-old white supremacist, Payton Gendron, murdered 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, with an assault rifle.

On May 24, another 18-year-old gunman killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

The following holiday weekend there were at least 14 ‘mass shootings’ in the US according to the Gun Violence Archive, an institution that tracks shootings in the country.

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, where a Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, where a Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers

Mourners place flowers on crosses with the names of children murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Thursday

Mourners place flowers on crosses with the names of children murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Thursday

People gather outside Tops Market on May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York, a day after a gunman opened fire at the store, killing 10 people

People gather outside Tops Market on May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York, a day after a gunman opened fire at the store, killing 10 people

Police officers and emergency personnel respond to reports of a gunman at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 1.

Police officers and emergency personnel respond to reports of a gunman at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 1.

On June 1, 45-year-old Michael Louis shot and killed four people at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He targeted a doctor whom he blamed for his chronic back pain.

In a rare evening address on Thursday, President Biden characterized American communities as “killing fields” while calling for a ban on assault weapons.

“Enough enough. It’s time for each of us to do our part,” the president said, “for the children we’ve lost. We can save for the children. For the nation we love.’

“Let’s meet the moment. Let’s finally do something.’

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