Idaho Police Search For Motive For Church Shooting That Left 2 Dead, 3 Wounded

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

With the First Presbyterian Church wrapped in yellow crime scene tape, parishioners had to go elsewhere to mourn the victims of a shooting rampage that has stunned this quiet college town.

A gunman sprayed dozens of bullets into a courthouse, killing a police officer and wounding a sheriff's deputy and a civilian, then went to a nearby church where he apparently killed a church sexton and himself, police said.

"These kinds of things aren't supposed to happen in this community,"Police Chief Dan Weaver said Sunday at a news conference.

Police said the gunman started shooting from a parking lot across from the courthouse shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday. A hail of more than 30 bullets ripped through the county's emergency dispatch center, an apparent attempt to lure people into the line of fire.

"Whoever the shooter is wanted to draw people to the courthouse," assistant Chief David Duke said. "When officers responded, he did open fire on them."

Officer Lee Newbill was killed as he rushed to the courthouse, and a Latah County Sheriff's deputy helped pull the officer out of the way before being shot, Duke said.

The gunman apparently retreated to the nearby First Presbyterian Church, where police heard the last gunshot shortly after 1 a.m.

About 6 a.m., three SWAT teams entered the 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.

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 died of gunshot wounds, Duke said.

The Rev. Norman Fowler identified the victim as Paul Bauer, a grandfatherly presence at the church where he lived. Bauer was in his 60s.

Police did not release the gunman's identity or information about his motive. "He was just shooting at anybody he could," Duke said.

Moscow, home of the University of Idaho, is located 80 miles south of Spokane, Wash., and surrounded by vast farmland. Streets in the area had been barricaded and residents had been told to stay inside. Graduation ceremonies at the university were just a week ago.

Newbill, the first officer at the scene, 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 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 in serious but stable condition.

On Sunday, Fowler canceled his plans to fly with 18 members of his congregation to help with Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts. Instead, Fowler found himself urging sobbing parishioners to pray for the family of the shooter during a service at a nearby university music hall.

"Preparing for the service today was basically leaving it up to the spirit to move me," Fowler said later.