Tuesday, March 15, 2005
''why here'' - the dumbest thing to ask...
Why should the other continents hold the monopoly on fanatical extremists, disturbed timebombs, utter evil in our midst...?!? Some people do sleep better at night (some during the day though - but that is another story!) thinking that there is nothing rotten within a reasonable radius around their sanctorum... They are only fooling themselves... and, deep down, they know it too. But it is better to live ignorantly... it is better not to know... All we can really do is merely 'pretend ' not to know though... Not to know what lurks, quite possibly, in our very own neighborhood - practically in our backyard, heck, in our very homes sometimes...
Some folks in Ottawa, Ont. and Brookfield, Wis. got the shock of their lives recently - and it was a surprise to them because they likely chose to be blind to the signs. It is always like that - they will be suspicious of the imagined threat, see one when it isn't there at all in truth, but they will not see it where it hides in broad daylight - barely "hiding" really... Such is that thing called human nature - a very flawed machine there...
A 30-year-old Ottawa man is in police custody after three of his family members were found dead in their home Sunday morning.
A frantic 911 call around 9 a.m. ET from a woman in the house drew police to the scene.
"Upon arrival, the officers found the bodies of three persons, one male and two females,'' Ottawa police Staff-Sgt. Monique Ackland told reporters outside the house.
She said the suspect "is known to the police," adding, "we had contacts with this individual, but not of a criminal nature."
The victims are Gerald Maxheleau, 66, his wife Louise Maxheleau, 60, and their daughter Michelle Maxheleau, 25. They were all stabbed to death.
A man in the house was arrested without incident. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Charges are pending.
Police say they have yet to determine a motive.
"I got shock," neighborhood resident Michel Abdulnour told CJOH News. "Why here? Because they are nice neighbours here." His son Chady added: "It's very quiet here (in) the neighbourhood. I've never heard of this kind of stuff."
The Maxheleaus took frequent walks in the neighborhood. Michel Abdulnour described them as "nice, nice people."
With a report from CJOH's Chris Day and files from The Canadian Press
BROOKFIELD, Wis. — Police have found no clear motive for why a man opened fire with a handgun during an evangelical church service at a hotel, killing seven people before taking his own life.
Investigators found no suicide note or any other documents that could tell them what led Terry Ratzmann to the shooting rampage Saturday in this Milwaukee suburb, Police Chief Daniel Tushaus said Sunday.
However, officials said they were looking into reports that Ratzmann became upset during a church service a few weeks ago and walked out, and that he also may have been about to lose his job.
Ratzmann, 44, fired 22 shots, stopping once to reload, and then shot himself in the head at the Sheraton hotel, Tushaus said.
About 50 to 60 people were sitting in a meeting room when Ratzmann walked in from the back and started firing, Tushaus said. Witnesses told police he didn't say anything before he fired.
"At this point, we're unable to determine if he had specific targets or he just shot at random," police Capt. Phil Horter said.
At one point during the shooting, a friend of Ratzmann's confronted him and pleaded with him to stop shooting, Horter said.
"There were a few more rounds fired, and at that point the suspect took his life," Horter said.
Police searched Ratzmann's home in New Berlin, about two miles from the hotel, and seized three computers and a rifle, Horter said. Horter said Ratzmann may have been about to lose his job, but investigators would not identify where he worked.
Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher said he did not know why Ratzmann walked out of a recent church service.
"Something upset him, and he walked out during that particular service two weeks ago," Bucher said.
Ratzmann was affiliated with the Living Church of God, which had been meeting at the hotel every Saturday morning for four or five years.
The born-again denomination focuses on "end-time" prophecies, and places a strong emphasis on using world news to "prove" that these are end times. Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, recently wrote that events prophesied in the Bible are "beginning to occur with increasing frequency."
The Charlotte, N.C.-based group called the shooting "a terrible tragedy."
"We are cooperating with the authorities to find out what happened," the group said on its Web site.
Tushaus did not identify the victims but gave approximate ages. Two boys ages 15 and 17, a 72-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman died at the hotel. Three men ranging in age from 44 to 58 died later at a hospital.
Four other people were hospitalized in serious condition.
Waukesha County's emergency dispatch center was flooded with 911 calls after the shooting, County Executive Dan Finley said. Some hotel guests remained locked in their rooms after police surrounded the building and would not allow anyone to enter or leave.
"We train for these incidents all the time and we hope against hope they never happen, but today was one of those days," Finley said.
After the shootings, police removed a pickup truck from the hotel parking lot.
The gunman lived with his mother and sister, who were being interviewed by officers as police collected evidence at their house, New Berlin Mayor Telesfore Wysocki said.
"We are in total shock and disbelief," the mayor said.
Neighbors said Ratzmann was a devout churchgoer and avid gardener who built his own greenhouse and shared homegrown vegetables with his neighbors. Shane Colwell, who talked to him regularly, called Ratzmann "so calm and so mellow."
"He brought me over a zucchini that was about foot-and-a-half long," Colwell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We ate it for a week."
Robert Blasczyk, another resident of Ratzmann's modest New Berlin neighborhood, said Ratzmann was a drinker, but that he could not believe he might be violent.
"He was the quietest guy in the world, the nicest," Blasczyk said. "I would have never believed this in a million years."
At the hotel, a small memorial took shape Saturday evening. Someone placed a red-and-white cross in a snow bank in front of the building. Another person left two stuffed animals and a note.
Police: Church Gunman Upset Over Sermon
Mar 14, 4:11 AM (ET) By JULIET WILLIAMS and RYAN NAKASHIMA
BROOKFIELD, Wis. (AP) - The man who fatally shot seven people during a quiet church service before turning the gun on himself was on the verge of losing his job and upset over a sermon he heard two weeks ago, investigators said Sunday.
Terry Ratzmann, 44, left no suicide note and gave no explanation for the killings during Saturday's weekly meeting at a suburban Milwaukee hotel. 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.
Fifty to 60 people were at the service when it turned into a bloodbath. Ratzmann, a buttoned-down churchgoer known for sharing his homegrown vegetables with his neighbors, walked into the room and fired 22 rounds from a 9mm handgun. He even dropped a magazine and reloaded another.
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.
"I just remember crawling on the carpet and just praying, screaming out and praying," Frazier told "Good Morning America" on Sunday.
After killing seven people and wounding four others, Ratzmann took his own life, leaving four rounds in his gun, police said.
The church's minister, Randy L. Gregory, 51, and his son, James Gregory, 16, of Gurnee, Ill., died, along with Harold Diekmeier, 74, of Delafield; Richard Reeves, 58, of Cudahy; Bart Oliver, 15, of Waukesha; Gloria Critari, 55, of Cudahy; and Gerald A. Miller, 44, of Erin, according to police and published reports.
Marjean Gregory, 52, of Gurnee, was hospitalized in critical condition. Matthew P. Kaulbach, 21, of Pewaukee and Angel M. Varichak, 19, of Helenville were hospitalized in satisfactory condition Sunday, a hospital spokeswoman said. A 10-year-old girl police identified as Lindsay was released from the hospital.
About 10 people attended a short vigil Sunday night outside the hotel, holding candles and praying. They gathered near a snow bank in front of a large makeshift memorial, which included more than 40 bouquets of flowers and 20 stuffed animals laid in front of seven white crosses.
Each cross had a victim's name and age. In the back, leaning against a tree with some bouquets, was an eighth cross bearing Ratzmann's name.
Becky Niedfeldt, 15, attended the vigil because she knew Oliver. "He'd take care of you even if he barely knew you," she said.
The church group was 20 or 30 minutes into Saturday's service when the shots rang out.
Ratzmann regularly attended the gatherings at the Sheraton each Saturday - the church group did not have a building of its own. But 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 Paul Bucher, although he was unsure over what.
He was not known to have threatened anyone and had no criminal record, police said. They seized three computers, a .22-caliber rifle and a box of bullets from the modest two-story home Ratzmann shared with his mother and adult sister.
Neighbors said Ratzmann built his own greenhouse, kept a well-tended garden and even used humane traps to free squirrels that got in the yard.
"He wasn't a dark guy. He was average Joe," said Shane Colwell, a neighbor who knew Ratzmann for about a decade. "It's not like he ever pushed his beliefs on anyone else."
But another neighbor called Ratzmann a drinker, and church members said he struggled with depression for years.
"Terry suffered from depression, on and off. When he was really depressed he didn't talk to people. Sometimes it was worse than others," said Kathleen Wollin, 66, who was sitting at the front of the room during Saturday's service.
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.
Colwell said Ratzmann was so devout about attending church that he skipped Colwell's wedding because it was on a Saturday.
The Living Church of God, based in Charlotte, N.C., 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.
The church branch that met in Brookfield was started by Randy Gregory, who moved his family from Texas to Gurnee, Ill., five years ago, said next-door neighbor Toni D'Amore, 47. Gregory and his 16-year-old son, James, were among the victims.
"Their children were probably, I'd have to say, were probably some of the nicest and most respectable young men I've ever met," she said.
She said James excelled in school. "He just had potential coming out of every pore of his body. You know, the world's lost something there."
Don Free's niece, Angel Varichak, was one of the wounded. Free said she was expected to survive.
"I wanted to know where God was when this happened," Free told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He was supposed to be everywhere. He could have at least been there."