Five people and two comfort dogs inside two vehicles were wounded in apparently random shootings in Missouri Saturday morning after a gunman opened fire during a police chase, police said.
Suspected gunman Tom S. Mourning II, 26, surrendered and was arrested in Joplin at around 5:22 a.m., about 15 minutes after he led Joplin police on a chase and began shooting at vehicles, police said in a statement.
"There does not appear to be any relationship between the suspect and the victims," police said.
Police Capt. Bob Higginbotham told AP Radio that there was no apparent motive for the shootings, which began after the suspect's father called police to report the suspect was firing rounds at their home.
Three people and two comfort dogs inside an Immanuel Lutheran Church van were wounded after the suspect shot at their van, police said.
"This came out of the blue and all of a sudden people were shot and going to the hospital,” Jason Glaskey, head of the church’s comfort dog ministry, told the Joplin Globe newspaper.
Kenneth Eby, driving the van, was shot multiple times and was in critical but stable condition, police said. Karen Mech, in the back seat, was injured by shrapnel and flying glass. The church said another person in the van was shot in the arm. One dog was grazed by a bullet and another was struck by a bullet, police said.
After shooting at the van in an intersection, the gunman allegedly shot at a pickup truck, police said. Donal Pugh, the driver, was struck multiple times and was hospitalized in serious but stable condition while a passenger, Debbie Pugh, suffered minor injuries from shrapnel, police said.
"As rounds were being fired, they (police) continued to stay with that suspect, continued to pursue that suspect even though they knew that the suspect was actively firing his weapon," Joplin Police Chief Matt Stewart said at a news conference.
Police recovered a rifle and handgun after Mourning was arrested, police said. Police said officers were initially called on a report of a person shooting at a residence at 5:08 a.m. and as they were preparing to stop a suspect vehicle shots were fired from inside and a pursuit began.
The gunman shot the church van as it was stopped at an intersection, and the suspect later shot at an oncoming pickup truck, police said in a statement.
"We're very grateful that these victims do not appear to have life-threatening wounds," Mayor Mike Seibert said.
Prosecutors in Jasper County charged Mourning with three counts of first-degree assault, three counts of armed criminal action, and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, police said in a statement Saturday night.
He was charged in Newton County with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of armed criminal action and one count of unlawful use of a weapon, police said.
The Globe newspaper reported that there were more charges in Jasper County. It reported, citing Jasper County prosecuting attorney Dean Dankelson, that Mourning was charged with five counts of assault, five counts of armed criminal action and three counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
Mourning was being held on more than $1.3 million bail, police said.
Immanuel Lutheran Church in a post on Facebook asked for prayers not only for the victims but for the gunman.
"Please pray for the man who did this. We are thankful that he is in custody, and pray that he will receive the help that he needs," the church statement said.