No motive for Illinois church shooting suspect

Verna Giley, a former cook at the Key Galaxy Restaurant in Alhambra, said Sedlacek never was threatening – nothing like the man prosecutors charged Monday with gunning down a Baptist pastor in the middle of his Sunday sermon and then stabbing two congregants.

Neither Madison County prosecutors nor Illinois State Police commented on a possible motive, or whether Sedlacek even knew the Rev. Fred Winters, a married father of two who led the First Baptist Church for nearly 22 years.

“We’re still not sure what the reasoning was,” said Illinois State Police Lt. Scott Compton, who added investigators had not yet interviewed Sedlacek on Monday afternoon.

Sedlacek, 27, of Troy, was charged Monday with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. He was ordered held without bond even as he remained hospitalized.

Sedlacek’s attorney, Ron Slemer, told the Belleville News-Democrat that his client has deteriorated both mentally and physically since contracting Lyme disease.

But Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a Lyme disease expert at Yale University, said it would be unlikely that the tick-borne illness would make someone so violent. “Lyme disease doesn’t cause people to shoot people,” Shapiro said.

None of the 150 worshippers attending the Sunday service seemed to recognize Sedlacek, and investigators did not know details of words he exchanged with Winters just before he allegedly began firing. They planned to review an audio recording of the service.

Sedlacek had 10 rounds of ammunition in a handgun and was carrying two more 10-round magazines in his pocket at First Baptist on Sunday, said Madison County State’s Attorney William Mudge. The .45-caliber Glock jammed after four shots were fired at Winters.

Mudge said it appeared Sedlacek may have arrived at the church, about four miles from his home, as early as 5:30 a.m., partly because his Jeep was in a parking space close to a door in the crowded parking lot.

“We think he intended to do this,” Mudge said.

Winters, 45, deflected the first bullet with his Bible, but a subsequent shot struck him in the heart. Sedlacek carried enough ammunition into the church to kill 30 people, Mudge said.

The first of the gunman’s four rounds exploded Winters’ Bible, sending a confetti-like spray of paper into the air in a horrifying scene worshippers initially thought was a skit, police said. Witnesses said Winters managed to run halfway down the sanctuary’s side aisle before collapsing.

Autopsy results showed Winters was hit with one bullet that went straight through his heart, said Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn.

Authorities said he stabbed himself in the throat while being wrestled to the ground by two congregants, who also were wounded.

A 39-year-old congregant, Terry Bullard, remained in serious condition. The third victim, Keith Melton, was treated and released.

Slemer said his client’s family is “very sorry for the pastor’s congregation.” First Baptist Associate Pastor Mark Jones said one of the church’s pastors visited with Sedlacek’s family Monday.

“We actually pray for him,” Jones said.


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Associated Press writers Lindsey Tanner and Tammy Webber contributed to this report from Chicago.


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.


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