911 Calls Show Horror of Church Shooting

Victims of a gunman's rampage at a church service used their cell phones to frantically call for help and describe the carnage that took the lives of seven worshippers, according to 911 tapes released Monday.

The wounded screamed, survivors cried, and many invoked the Lord's name.

"He was putting in another magazine when I ran out the door," said one man, who fled the Sheraton hotel, the site of the service in this Milwaukee suburb, to a nearby Sears department store. "He was getting ready to open fire again."

"One, two, three, four, five," said one woman, counting the wounded lying on the bloody floor.

Another woman called when it was all over: "Oh, my God. Oh my, one of my friends is laying on the floor. I think she's dead. Oh, this is awful."

Churchgoers knew the killer, who fired 21 bullets on the congregation, before shooting himself in the head. One even named him.

"Terry Ratzmann (search). He's one of the members. He's dead. He shot himself," the caller said.

In the end, seven were killed, four were injured and the gunman was slumped against a wall.

Police said Ratzmann, 44, had attended services of the Living Church of God (search) for many years. On Saturday — the day the congregation celebrates the Sabbath — people saw him before the service with his briefcase, saw him leave, then saw him again about 20 minutes after the service began, when he strode into the back of the room and opened fire.

Police said Monday they found the briefcase, with Ratzmann's Bible inside, at his home 2 miles away.

Police are focusing on his connection to the church for the reason behind the slayings. "We believe that the motive has something to do with the church and the church services more so than any other possible motive," Brookfield Capt. Phil Horter said.

Police say Ratzmann, a computer technician, may have targeted his pastor's family during the shooting. The pastor and his teenage son were killed, and his wife was one of four wounded.

Investigators are also scrutinizing a Feb. 26 service that Ratzmann walked out of in apparent anger.

Charles Bryce, the church's national administration director, said he was told the sermon was about "basic Christian living," and did not see what specifically upset Ratzmann.

"That's something we just don't know. I don't know whether we'll ever know," Bryce said.

A friend who used to drive Ratzmann to services in the 1980s said it wasn't uncommon for Ratzmann to storm out of services.

"When he was angry he wouldn't talk. If there was something he disagreed with, he would walk out of services," said Janet Brantzeg, 64.

Victims' relatives and church members gathered Monday night to console one another and discuss a possible memorial service.

Tom Geiger, 56, who lost his nephew Bart Oliver in the shooting, said he knew Ratzmann more than 20 years and was aware he had problems, but doubted a particular sermon triggered the rage.

"There was no way you could have predicted this could have happened," he said.

Investigators have ruled out an impending job loss as the gunman's motive, though a project Ratzmann was working on for GE Healthcare that began in June was to run out March 25.

Ratzmann was informed in an e-mail in February the contract would end, but his contracting agency, Adecco, said it would look for other work for him, Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said.

"There was nothing sinister. He wasn't being terminated," Bucher said.

The church's minister, Randy L. Gregory, 51, and his son, James, 16, of Gurnee, Ill., died, along with church members Harold Diekmeier, 74; Richard Reeves, 58; Bart Oliver, 15; Gloria Critari, 55; and Jerry Miller, 44.

The minister's wife, Marjean Gregory, 52, was hospitalized in critical condition. All the wounded were expected to recover.