Charges Filed in Church Shooting

9 years 6 months 2 weeks ago August 13, 2007 Aug 13, 2007 Monday, August 13 2007 Monday, August 13, 2007 8:56:34 PM CDT in News

Police identified the shooter as 52-year-old Eiken Elam Saimon, who entered the church with two guns and took about 50 church attendees hostage.

Among the dead is church leader Kernal Rohobson, 44. Saimon allegedly knew the victims, who also included two deacons

Police chief Dave McCracken said five people were wounded, but officers have been told that they will recover. He said others who were injured may have fled before police secured the church.

McCracken said the gunman allowed the children to leave the church before he started shooting. No motive has been released as of yet.

"Yesterday, Neosho truly experienced the best and worst in human behavior," said Newton County prosecutor Scott Watson. "A lone gunman entered a church sanctuary and opened fire. Clearly, the worst in human behavior. However, a few minutes later, officers of the Neosho Police Department and the Newton County Sheriff's Department entered that same sanctuary and ended the standoff without any additional loss of human life."

Watson said that authorities didn't hesitate to take Saimon into custody despite the danger.

"No, there weren't 55 guys sitting outside of a church wondering what in the world they should do as people were getting killed inside. You might see that on TV, and it makes great Die Hard movies, but the truth is these men went in knowing full well when they went in, a 9 millimeter was going to be taken off the victim's head and put on theirs."

Gov. Blunt released a statement following the shooting and visited Neosho Monday afternoon.

"This is a terrible tragedy which was made worse by the fact that it happened in a peaceful place of faith and worship," he said. "Melanie and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the victims as well as the community of Neosho and everyone who is mourning this tragedy."

The church shooting was the first murder in Neosho in over 15 years. There could be more charges filed as the number of victims is assessed. Saimon was also suspected of sexual assault on a 14-year-old a day before the incident.

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