Gunman, 33, shot and killed his ex-Iowa State University student girlfriend, 22, and her friend, 21

0

A gunman in Iowa fatally shot his ex-girlfriend and her friend in a domestic attack before turning the gun on himself, police have said.

Jonathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, shot and killed, Eden Mariah Montang, 22, and Vivian Renee Flores, 21, in the parking lot outside Cornerstone Church of Armes near Des Moines, Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald said .

He blasted them with a 9MM pistol following a fall with Montang, the local sheriff said at a press conference on Friday.

The attack was the latest fatal shooting to rock the United States, following killings in New York, Texas, California and Oklahoma in recent weeks.

Whitlatch and Montang had recently broken up and he had been harassing here, cops said. He was charged on Tuesday with harassment and impersonation of a public official. Both charges were related to Montang as well as a restraining order, police said.

According to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, the suspect was also awaiting trial on sexual abuse charges following an incident last October when he twice put his hand in a woman’s pants and tried to enter her inside. a nightclub in Cedar Falls. The alleged victim was neither Montang nor Flores.

The incident was caught on surveillance cameras. Whitlatch told authorities he didn’t remember much of the incident because he had been drinking. Deposition interviews in the case were due to begin later this month.

Nicholas Lennie, chief deputy of the Story County Sheriff’s Office, said they were aware of the charge. Fitzgerald added that he has posted bond in the national case and is due in court on June 10.

Authorities searched Whitlatch’s residence after the shooting and discovered ammunition for the 9MM pistol that had been purchased just an hour before the shooting, as well as an AR-15 unrelated to the attack.

Montang and Flores were attending a Bible study at Cornerstone Church in Ames, where both attended Iowa State University.

The church held a service to pray for the victims on Friday morning, with several members hugging each other unable to hold back their tears.

It was a program that both were encouraged to participate in and that brought together college and high school students. There were 80 people present, leading Fitzgerald to suggest the shooting could have been much worse.

“He was there for a purpose, which he accomplished,” the sheriff said.

People mourn in the parking lot of Cornerstone Church on Friday morning June 3, 2022 in Ames, Iowa

The church held a service to pray for the victims on Friday morning, with several members hugging each other unable to hold back their tears.

The church held a service to pray for the victims on Friday morning, with several members hugging each other unable to hold back their tears.

Story Country Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald, right, and Story County Chief Deputy Nicholas Lennie provide more information about the shooting at Cornerstone Church in Ames.

Story Country Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald, right, and Story County Chief Deputy Nicholas Lennie provide more information about the shooting at Cornerstone Church in Ames.

Jonathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, shot and killed, Eden Mariah Montang, 22, and Vivian Renee Flores, 21, in the parking lot outside Cornerstone Church of Armes near Des Moines, Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald said .

Jonathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, shot and killed, Eden Mariah Montang, 22, and Vivian Renee Flores, 21, in the parking lot outside Cornerstone Church of Armes near Des Moines, Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald said .

Whitlatch and Montang had recently broken up and he had been harassing here, cops said.  He was charged on Tuesday with harassment and impersonation of a public official.  Both charges were related to Montang as well as a restraining order, police said.

Whitlatch and Montang had recently broken up and he had been harassing here, cops said. He was charged on Tuesday with harassment and impersonation of a public official. Both charges were related to Montang as well as a restraining order, police said.

People hug outside Cornerstone Church after Thursday's shooting.  Two church members were killed by a gunman in the parking lot

People hug outside Cornerstone Church after Thursday’s shooting. Two church members were killed by a gunman in the parking lot

People console each other after the shooting outside Cornerstone Church on Thursday, June 2 in Ames, Iowa

People console each other after the shooting outside Cornerstone Church on Thursday, June 2 in Ames, Iowa

The attack took place during Summer Salt, a program for college-age members, said Nicholas Lennie, deputy chief of the Story County Sheriff's Office.  Pictured: Mourners after the attack

The attack took place during Summer Salt, a program for college-age members, said Nicholas Lennie, deputy chief of the Story County Sheriff’s Office. Pictured: Mourners after the attack

Cornerstone Church released a statement confirming that the women killed were “young members of our community”, but did not provide further details about the victims or the shooter, citing the ongoing police investigation.

“Our hearts break for everyone involved and we pray for everyone affected, especially the families of the victims,” ​​the church said in the statement. The church also plans to hold a prayer service for the victims on Friday.

The attack took place during Summer Salt, a program for college-age members, Lennie said.

It is estimated that around 1,300 students gather for the program each week. Yesterday was the first meeting of the summer.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they found all three dead, Lennie said, adding he could not provide identities or divulge what the relationship between them might have been.

“This appears to be an isolated incident with a single shooter,” Lennie said. Lennie told the Des Moines Register he was “shocked” by shooting a member of “law enforcement.”

“We prepare and train hard for it, but when it happens it’s obviously chaotic until you get it under control,” he told the Des Moines Register.

“I would also like to take a moment to express our condolences to those involved, the victims involved, the families, the witnesses who were here at the church.”

DailyMail.com attempted to contact the sheriff’s office and the church for comment.

The church said it was “saddened” by the event in a statement on its Facebook page, writing: “Our hearts break for everyone involved, and we pray for everyone affected, especially the families of the victims. “.

The Salt Company, which hosts the weekly programme, said: “We mourn deeply. Tonight a tragic shooting occurred involving two young members of our Cornerstone Church community. It is believed that an adult male shot these two victims and then committed suicide.

The shooting took place at Cornerstone Church of Armes (pictured), near Des Moines

The shooting took place at Cornerstone Church of Armes (pictured), near Des Moines

The church said she was

The church said it was ‘saddened’ and ‘heartbroken’ by the event in a statement

Vance declined to elaborate on the incident, citing the ongoing investigation.

Worshipers reportedly remained on the grounds and inside the church for hours after the shooting, and photos from the scene show groups of people tearfully hugging.

In a tweet, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called the shooting “senseless violence.”

“Tonight’s senseless act of violence claimed the lives of two innocent victims at their place of worship. Kevin and I mourn the families who have suffered unfathomable loss.

The shooting is the latest in a series of mass shootings that have plagued the United States in recent weeks.

On May 14, an 18-year-old white supremacist, Payton Gendron, murdered 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, with an assault rifle.

Then, on May 24, another 18-year-old gunman murdered 19 elementary students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

The following holiday weekend there were at least 14 “mass shootings” across the United States according to the Gun Violence Archive, an institute that tracks shootings in the country.

On June 1, Michael Louis, 45, shot dead four people at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was targeting a doctor he blamed for his chronic back pain.

In a rare Thursday evening speech, President Biden called American communities “killing fields,” while calling for a ban on assault weapons.

‘Enough enough. It is time for each of us to do our part,” the president said, “for the children we have lost. For children we can save. For the nation we love. Let’s meet the moment. Let’s finally do something.

Share.

Comments are closed.