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Man shot and killed during prayers at Atlanta-area megachurch; suspect arrested

John Bazemore / AP

A Fulton County sheriff's deputy stands guard Wednesday outside the World Changers International church near College Park, Ga., after a fatal shooting inside.

Updated at 4:28 p.m. ET: A former employee entered a chapel at an Atlanta-area megachurch headed by televangelist Creflo Dollar early Wednesday and fatally shot a volunteer staff member leading a prayer service, police said.

The gunman walked calmly into the chapel at World Changers Church International's main campus in College Park, Ga., and shot a 39-year-old volunteer and church member who was leading a prayer service, Fulton County Police Cpl.  Kay Lester said at a news conference.



The victim, Gregory McDowell, was transported to South Fulton Hospital, where he later died.

The suspect, identified by police as Floyd Palmer, 52, fled the scene in a car. He was arrested Wednesday afternoon, said Eric Heinze with the U.S. Marshals Service. No details were immediately available on his capture.

Palmer had worked at the church doing facilities maintenance but resigned his position in August, Lester said.

“He walked in calmly, opened fire inside the church and left as calmly as he came,” Lester said.

It was not immediately clear how many shots were fired.

Fulton County Police Dept. Via AP

Floyd Palmer was arrested in the church shooting.

About 20 to 25 people were inside the chapel but no one else was hurt, Lester said.

Dollar was not at the church when the shooting happened, she said.

Lester said it’s possible the shooter and the victim knew each other.

A few schools in the surrounding neighborhood were locked down temporarily.   

World Changers Church has about 20 campuses throughout the country. The church founded by Dollar, who is its senior pastor, claims about 30,000 members and has an $18 million, 8,500-seat sanctuary about 15 miles from downtown Atlanta.

Dollar, who's known for his pinstriped suits and charismatic sermons, has written several books offering followers his advice on how to get out of debt and take lessons from the Bible in building wealth so they can better live as Christians.

Edgar Zuniga, NBC News Atlanta, contributed to this story.

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