Man faces murder trial in church shooting

  • Follow Crime & courts

ATLANTA — A man accused of gunning down a volunteer during a prayer service at a Georgia megachurch will face a murder trial, a judge ruled Friday.

Back | Next
Brenda McDowell, the mother of Greg McDowell, the Georgia megachurch volunteer killed during a prayer service in October, cries during a preliminary court hearing.  DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Brenda McDowell, the mother of Greg McDowell, the Georgia megachurch volunteer killed during a prayer service in October, cries during a preliminary court hearing.

Fulton County Magistrate Judge Karen Smith Woodson found there is probable cause to move forward with charges of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony against Floyd Palmer.

Police say Palmer fatally shot 39-year-old Greg McDowell as McDowell led a prayer group at World Changers Church International Church outside Atlanta on Oct. 24. No one else was hurt.

Witnesses say McDowell had been pacing back and forth during the prayer service but stopped as Palmer approached the front of the chapel, Fulton County police Detective John Cross testified. Palmer began shooting when he reached the pulpit and continued to shoot McDowell once he’d fallen to the floor, witnesses told police.

An investigation revealed McDowell was shot 12 times, including one bullet that went through his heart and caused profuse bleeding, Cross said.

McDowell’s mother attended the hearing Friday and looked upset – squeezing her eyes shut and scrunching up her face – as Cross described her son’s death.

Police still haven’t recovered the gun used in the shooting, but they found bullets in Palmer’s home with casings like those at the scene. Palmer did not legally own a gun, Cross said. Palmer had tried to buy two guns at a gun show in Savannah on Aug. 11 but was turned down because he falsified information on his application, failing to disclose his prior mental health history, Cross said.

Police records show Palmer was charged more than a decade ago with a shooting outside a Maryland mosque. Palmer was committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2004 after pleading not criminally responsible in the mosque shooting.

Palmer had worked at the church, helping to set up for services and doing other tasks, but resigned on Aug. 21, Cross testified.

Church officials told police Palmer and McDowell never formally worked together, but Palmer’s cousin and McDowell’s wife indicated to officers that McDowell had supervised Palmer at some point.

A church employee told police Palmer continued to attend services at the church following his resignation and had been there the Sunday before the Wednesday morning shooting. The employee told officers Palmer had not been his usual self that Sunday, refusing to make eye contact and not really responding when the employee asked him if he was all right, Cross said.

Cross was the only witness called by the prosecution at the preliminary hearing. The defense did not call any witnesses.

Defense attorney Drew Findling has previously said Palmer’s mental competency must be evaluated as the criminal case against him moves forward, but he did not raise the issue Friday.

Comments (1) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/11/13 - 10:31 am
Simple Solution

Congress can prevent future occurrences such as this by passing a law banning gun sales to individuals who shoot someone outside a place of worship, get committed to a psychiatric hospital, and get released from said hospital. It would be easy. Just ask Joe Biden.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
Crash kills Augusta man, 57
The coroner says an autopsy is planned, possibly Friday, into the death of an Augusta man killed Wednesday night in a single-car accident.