Gunman killed 4 at church, then his wife, authorities say
3 children kidnapped during La. shooting, but found unharmed
BATON ROUGE, La. -- A man gunned down four of his in-laws during a morning church service yesterday, abducted his wife, and then fatally shot her before he was captured nearby, authorities said.
Church members wept as they watched investigators examine evidence and search for clues. Anthony Bell, 25, of Baton Rouge was arrested at an apartment complex, where his wife was found dead, police said.
It was unclear whether Erica Bell, 24, was killed at the complex, police said. Her three children, including an infant, also taken from the Ministry of Jesus Christ church, were found safe, officials said.
Erica Bell's mother, pastor Claudia Brown, was wounded and in serious condition at a hospital, police said, but would not provide further details.
Anthony Bell faces charges of murder, attempted murder, and kidnapping.
Police and relatives said those killed were Erica Bell's grandparents, Leonard Howard, 78, and Gloria Howard, 72; her great aunt, Deloris McGrew, 68; and a cousin, Darlene Mills, 47.
Jeffrey Howard, Brown's brother and a member of the church, said his sister had been shot in the back of the head. He said Anthony and Erica Bell had ''domestic trouble" in the past.
Kenneth Green, another member of the church, wept as he described the loss of several family members. Green, McGrew's son, was not in the church at the time of the shooting.
''This is going to be one of the worst days in the history of our city," said Police Chief Jeff LeDuff, who did not have a motive for the shooting. ''This is senseless. This is a total waste of human life."
The small church shares space in an old warehouse with a guitar shop in a nonresidential area of Baton Rouge. Bell is believed to have entered and opened fire with a handgun shortly before services were to end around 10 a.m.
After shooting the five, Bell fled the church with his wife and with three children, including a newborn, police said.
The suspect dropped off two of the children at a family member's house after the shootings, then left with his wife and the newborn, investigators said. The two older children were found safe. It was not determined whether Bell is the father of the children.
Hours later, police responded to a 911 call about a shooting at Ardenwood Park Apartments and found the woman dead in a car and Bell holding the baby, LeDuff said.
Anthony Bell was arrested without incident. ''Officers were able to get close enough to ascertain that he was not armed at that point, and they were able to take the child into safety," LeDuff said.
Material from Reuters was included in this report.