Written by Bennett Guess
According to Associated Press, prosecutors filed three murder charges on Monday against a man accused of opening fire in a church during a service, killing three people and wounding five.
Prosecutors also charged the man, Eiken Elam Saimon, 52, with assault, felonious restraint for holding the congregation hostage, and armed criminal action. Another assault charge was pending, Newton County Prosecutor Scott Watson said.
The Micronesian congregation, United Church of Pohnpei, was preparing to be received into the UCC's Missouri Mid South Conference next month. The congregation, however, gathers for worship at Neosho's First Congregational Church, which is not affiliated with the UCC.
According to news reports, police and prosecutors are declining to discuss the shooter's motive. But Watson told The Associated Press earlier yesterday that the alleged gunman had targeted congregation leaders.
"I think that you'll find that the victims were what some would term elders or leaders [of the congregation]," Watson told the AP. "As information continues to come forward, it appears that the shots that were fired were not random."
The victims included Kernal Rehobson, 44, pastor of the congregation. The others were Intenson Rehobson, 44, and Kuhpes Jesse Ikosia, 53.