MOSCOW, Idaho – A sniper sprayed dozens of bullets on a courthouse, killing a police officer and wounding a sheriff's deputy and a civilian, then apparently killed a caretaker and himself Sunday in a nearby church, police said.
Investigators believe the shooter deliberately fired into an emergency dispatch center inside the Latah County Courthouse late Saturday to lure people into the line of fire. The officer was killed as he rushed to the courthouse, and the deputy helped pull the officer out of the way before being shot, said David Duke, Moscow's assistant police chief.
Shortly after 6 a.m., three SWAT teams entered the First Presbyterian Church and found the bodies of the shooter and another man, Duke said. An assault rifle, ammunition and spent shells were found next to the gunman's corpse, he said.
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The shooter died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, Duke said. His body was found in the sanctuary, and the body of another man was found in the church office. The second man also dead of gunshot wounds, Duke said.
Authorities did not release either man's name, but the church's pastor, Rev. Norman Fowler, identified the victim inside the church as Paul Bauer, a sexton believed to be in his 60s who lived at the church.
Police said the gunman started shooting from a parking lot across from the courthouse shortly after 11 p.m. A hail of more than 30 bullets ripped through the county's dispatch center, Duke said. Dispatchers were moved to the jail area of the courthouse.
"Whoever the shooter is wanted to draw people to the courthouse," Duke said. "When officers responded, he did open fire on them."
Lee Newbill, the first officer at the scene, was hit around 11:35 p.m. Saturday, Duke said. Newbill had served with the police department since March 2001 and is the city's first officer killed in the line of duty.
Deputy Brannon Jordon, a 17-year veteran, was shot shortly after midnight as he took cover behind a tree after pulling Newbill out of the line of fire, Duke said. Jordon was in serious condition with multiple gunshot wounds, the assistant chief said.
Authorities did not release the name of the injured civilian, but said he lived in the neighborhood and had gone outside after hearing the gunshots. The man was undergoing surgery and was in stable condition.
Police had no information about the gunman's motive.
"He was just shooting at anybody he could," Duke said.
Four empty magazines were found outside the church. Duke initially estimated that 75 shots were fired, but later said it was not clear how many shots the gunman fired.
None of the officers who responded returned fire, Duke said.
Officers surrounded the church, which is across the street from the courthouse and nestled in a residential neighborhood near downtown and Moscow High School. A final shot was heard from inside the church about 1 a.m. Sunday, Duke said.
Streets in the area had been barricaded and residents had been told to stay inside their homes.
With the church still a crime scene late Sunday morning, members of the congregation shed tears for Bauer and prayed for the other shooting victims, including the gunman, at a service in a building on the nearby University of Idaho campus. They said Bauer was a constant grandfatherly presence at the church and was always smiling.
Moscow, a community of about 20,000 people, is 80 miles south of Spokane, Wash.