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Shooter was "angry over sermon, losing job"

BROOKFIELD (WISCONSIN), MARCH 14. In a minute, a quiet church service at a suburban Milwaukee hotel turned into a bloodbath.

Terry Ratzmann, a buttoned-down churchgoer known for sharing his homegrown vegetables with his neighbours, walked into the room and fired 22 rounds from a 9mm handgun.

One of Ratzmann's friends begged him to stop, calling him by name and saying ``Stop, stop, why?'' police Capt. Phil Horter said. Chandra Frazier dove under a chair. The man sitting in it died. Before it was over, seven persons, including the church's minister and his teenage son, were killed and four others wounded. Ratzmann (44) then took his own life, leaving four rounds in his gun, police said.

Though he left no suicide note and gave no explanation for the killings, investigators said Ratzmann was on the verge of losing his job and was upset over a sermon he heard two weeks ago.

It was unclear what specifically upset him, but Ratzmann was a member of the Living Church of God, a denomination whose leader recently prophesied that end times are near.

Ratzmann regularly attended the gatherings at the Sheraton each Saturday — the church group did not have a building of its own. But Ms. Frazier said Ratzmann walked out of a recent sermon ``sort of in a huff. Something that the minister said he was upset about. I'm not quite sure what exactly,'' she said.

During the shooting rampage, Ratzmann told the friend who approached him that he was upset, said Waukesha County District Attorney, though he was unsure over what.

The district attorney said Ratzmann was on the verge of losing his job as a computer technician. Ratzmann had been working for an employment agency, assigned to a health care company.

The Living Church of God, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, places a strong emphasis on using world events to prove the end of the world is near.

Earlier this year, the group's leader, Roderick C. Meredith, wrote that events prophesied in the Bible are ``beginning to occur with increasing frequency. We are not talking about decades in the future. We are talking about Bible prophesies that will intensify within the next five to 15 years of your life,'' he wrote in the church's magazine, Tomorrow's World. — AP

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