Church shooting victim's family speaks out for first time

Church shooting victim’s family breaks silence; suspect waives another hearing

The family of a Union City father of two, killed in his own church this week, finally broke their silence, albeit briefly, Friday.

Meanwhile, the man accused of shooting 39-year-old Greg McDowell remained silent as to why police say he did it.

For the second day in a row, Floyd Palmer waived his first appearance hearing. Fulton Magistrate Judge Maureen Malone told Palmer and his attorneys that he would not be able to return for a first appearance Saturday and scheduled his next hearing for Nov. 9 at the Fulton County Courthouse.

Moments before the media and members of McDowell’s family were led into a small hearing room at the Fulton County Jail, a handcuffed Palmer appeared nervous as he shifted his head from side to side at the back of a small hearing room, according to The Associated Press.

He was never officially brought before Malone. A jailer led him away and a representative of the public defender’s office said he was waiving the hearing.

Once again, members of McDowell’s family, including his mother, Brenda McDowell, attended the hearing but did not speak to the media.

At a 4 p.m. press briefing, Jerome McDowell, who identified himself as McDowell’s uncle, delivered a brief statement on the family’s lawn, without taking any questions.

He said the family appreciates the outpouring of support from the community and the church.

“His wife, family, children and parent are doing as well as expected … considering the ordeal,” Jerome McDowell said.

Police say on Wednesday morning Palmer, 51, gunned down McDowell at World Changers Church International, the College Park megachurch founded by the Rev. Creflo Dollar.

McDowell had worked at the church for about 10 years in the productions department, but was volunteering Wednesday.

Police say that Palmer, for reasons still unknown, simply stood up from a pew while McDowell was leading what is called “corporate prayer” and fired several rounds, killing McDowell.

Palmer was arrested several hours later in Buckhead. If the allegations are true, it would be the second time that Palmer has been charged with shooting someone at a house of worship.

In 2001, he was charged with shooting Reuben Ash outside a Maryland mosque. After pleading not criminally responsible to the mosque shooting, Palmer was committed to a mental facility because psychiatrists found him to be delusional and paranoid.

When he was released in 2006, despite objections from prosecutors, it was on the condition that he adhere to a number of restrictions for five years.

Palmer has lived in Atlanta for about two years, although much is unclear about his time here. Officials at World Changers have been silent, and calls to a New Jersey-based public relations firm representing the church have not been returned.

Vic Bolton, a pastor at the church, told reporters Friday that Palmer was an employee of the church “until he resigned” from a position in facilities. Asked how people are hired at the church, Bolton said standard hiring practices are observed, but added he “had no clue how they are vetted.”

Funeral plans for McDowell have not been finalized.

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