A Florida church service ended in tragedy Sunday afternoon when outside the church building, a man shot a woman multiple times, then killed himself, authorities and witnesses say.
Hundreds of congregants were exiting the sanctuary at Faith Center Church in Sunrise, Fla., just before 1 p.m., when the man began opening fire at the woman, possibly his ex-girlfriend, Sunrise police said.
"It was crazy. We just started running because a stray bullet doesn't know anyone," said witness and congregant Herrietha Gary. "I've never been so scared in all the days in my life — just frantic."
Even though the armed assailant shot the woman several times, she managed to drive away, according to Sunrise police spokeswoman Officer Michelle Eddy. The shooting victim drove around the parking lot, where others found her, police said.
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Also inside the vehicle was her 12-year-old daughter, but the girl was unharmed, police said.
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The armed man shot himself at the crime scene, police said. He was taken to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, Eddy said. The wounded woman was taken to Broward Health, police said. Her latest condition wasn’t available.
Their names haven’t been released.
During the shooting, church leaders were ordering congregants back inside the church building, witnesses said. Other congregants already were in the parking lot.
Gary, the witness, said she thought she was hearing firecrackers, but a couple hiding behind a car warned her about the danger, she said. Gary said she was with her grandchild at the time.
"They were saying, 'Get down! Get down! There are gunshots!'" Gary said. "And I started hysterically screaming and running with my grandbaby."
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Gary and her grandchild found shelter in her car and were unhurt, she said.
Congregant Daron Thompson said the shooting was "kind of strange."
"You think to yourself, 'Wow!' You know? I mean, you don't expect something like this to happen at church," Thompson said.
Faith Center Church, also known as Faith Center Ministries, drew a large turnout Sunday with a special guest speaker, congregants said. The church has a sprawling 75,000-foot facility, formerly known as Sunrise Theatre, according to its website.
Police still are investigating the shooting.
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