Des Moines Register Staff, USA Today

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A man shot and killed two people and then killed himself Thursday night in a parking lot outside a church in Ames, police and church officials said.

The shooting happened just before 7 p.m. local time at Cornerstone Church, a megachurch about 30 miles north of Des Moines. 

A church official described the victims as two female “young members” of the church. The ages of the victims were not immediately known, and the gunman has not been identified. 

“We are grieving deeply,” said Mark Vance, with the Salt Company youth ministry at Cornerstone Church, in a statement. “Tonight, a tragic shooting occurred involving two young members of our Cornerstone Church community. It is believed that an adult male shot these two victims and then took his own life.”

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The suspected shooter appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Story County Sheriff Capt. Nicholas Lennie.

‘WE’RE IN A PARALYSIS’:

There have already been a dozen mass shootings this year Lennie said several 911 calls came in at 6:51 p.m. as a program was going on at church, which hosts a regular Thursday evening event for the Salt Company.

Law enforcement officials on Thursday did not release details about the weapon used in the shooting. Lennie said there was not an ongoing threat to the public.

“I wouldn’t say I’m shocked as law enforcement,” Lennie said. “We prepare and we train hard for this, but when it happens, it’s obviously chaotic until you get it under control.”

A news conference was planned Friday morning, Lennie said.

Vance said he was unable to give any details about what happened because of the ongoing investigation.

“We can say, however, that we are more than saddened by the events that transpired. Our hearts break for all involved, and we are praying for everyone affected, especially the family of the victims.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the shooting was an “act of senseless violence.”

“Tonight’s act of senseless violence took the lives of two innocent victims at their place of worship. Kevin and I grieve for the families who have suffered an unfathomable loss,” Reynolds wrote on Twitter. “And while the investigation continues and we learn more, we ask that Iowans pray for the victims and their families, the members of Cornerstone Church, and the entire Ames community.”

The shooting in Ames follows several high-profile mass shootings. Ten people were killed at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, on May 14. Last week, 19 students and two teachers died in a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. And on Wednesday, four people were killed a medical building in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden on Thursday called on Congress to pass sweeping gun control legislation. 

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