ATLANTA (AP) – A woman opened fire at an Atlanta church before services started Sunday morning, killing her mother and the minister before committing suicide.

Congregants of Turner Monumental AME Church said Shelia W. Chaney Wilson, 43, was agitated when she came to the church. She was sitting with her mother, Jennie Mae Robinson, and the Rev. Johnny Clyde Reynolds in the sanctuary after Sunday school when Wilson opened fire with a handgun, police said. No one else was in the sanctuary.

Police did not say how many shots were fired.

Reynolds, 62, was pastor of the church in the Kirkwood neighborhood, on the city’s east side. Assistant Pastor Christy Miller said Reynolds had just finished teaching Sunday school and was walking through the sanctuary when he stopped to talk with Wilson and Robinson, 67.

Soon after, other congregants heard shots in the sanctuary, Miller said.

Police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley said officers don’t know of any possible motive. Worshippers who knew Wilson said she was disturbed and that something set her off Sunday.

Wilson’s cousin, 17-year-old Nekeshia Burton, said Wilson had gone to the church early in the morning to talk to Reynolds. “Something wasn’t sitting right with her,” Burton said. But Burton said there were no signs that Wilson would become violent.

Debra Mitchell, a member of the church, said Wilson had recently lost her job.

“We knew she has some instability, but we didn’t know it was this deep,” Mitchell said.

Many of the members remembered Robinson, who taught Bible study, as a pillar of the church.

“She’s just a sweet individual, always praying for other people, always doing missionary work,” Mitchell said.

The pastor was described as mild-mannered and generous.

“There was nothing too small or too great that he’d do for you,” Miller said.

The shootings happened before most worshippers arrived for church. When they got there and heard what had happened, church members sobbed and hugged in front of the building.

“We’re such a loving church, a family church,” Miller said. “We’ll support each other through this.”



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.