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Sermon upset Wis. church shooter

Associated Press
Published March 14, 2005

BROOKFIELD, Wis. - In a minute, a quiet church service at a suburban Milwaukee hotel turned into a bloodbath.

Terry Ratzmann, a buttoned-down churchgoer known for sharing his homegrown vegetables with his neighbors, walked into the room and fired 22 rounds from a 9mm handgun.

Seven people, including the church's minister and his teenage son, were killed and four others wounded. Ratzmann, 44, then took his own life, leaving four rounds in his gun, police said.

Although he left no suicide note and gave no explanation for the killings, investigators said Ratzmann was on the verge of losing his job and was upset over a sermon he heard two weeks ago. Ratzmann was a member of the Living Church of God.

Fifty to 60 people were at Saturday's weekly meeting, and anyone in Ratzmann's path appeared to be a target. He even dropped a magazine and reloaded another.

Ratzmann regularly attended the gatherings at the Sheraton each Saturday. But Chandra Frazier told ABC's Good Morning America on Sunday that Ratzmann walked out of a recent sermon "sort of in a huff."

"Something that the minister said he was upset about," she said.

Some who knew him said the sermon was about the end of time and economic upheavals.

During the shooting rampage, Ratzmann told a friend who approached him that he was upset, said Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher, although he was unsure over what.

He was not known to have threatened anyone and had no criminal record, police said. They seized three computers, a .22-caliber rifle and a box of bullets from the home Ratzmann shared with his mother and adult sister.

The district attorney said Ratzmann was on the verge of losing his job as a computer technician. Ratzmann had been working for an employment agency, assigned to a health care company.

The Living Church of God, based in Charlotte, N.C., uses world events to prove the end of the world is near.

Earlier this year, the group's leader, Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, wrote that events prophesied in the Bible are "beginning to occur with increasing frequency."

[Last modified March 14, 2005, 01:29:07]

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