Dogma Alert

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Police Focus on Religion in Milwaukee Shootings

Is it just my imagination, or does it seem that more and more people are being triggered in some way to go on murderous rampages lately? Is it possible that these types of events are not isolated incidents, but are connected somehow to the many other changes also occuring at this time? The weather is going crazy all over the world, including earthquakes, hurricanes and climate change. Bush and company are seeking to expand their war in the middle east, with China, Russia and India also looking to get into the act. Add to this meteorite sightings, awakening volcanoes, and other anomalous phenomenon, and the effects of this increasing change becomes apparant in almost all aspects of life. So then, how does the reports of people suddenly snapping and going on a killing spree fit into this picture?

One explanation is that the earth is an integrated and interconnected system, and humans beings as part of organic life in the system, must also experience these changes as well. Perhaps, the "way" an individual experiences these seemingly catastrophic changes says alot about the orientation of the individual themselves. Some find find themselves triggerd to commit horrible acts of violence, while others might find themselves motivated to do research and learn more about what is happening so that they can share this information with others.

Each according to thier own choosing and spiritual make-up, it seems.

As tragic as this shooting was in Milwaukee, that fact that it was carried out by a true believer and happened in Sunday church is not surprising at all.


Published: March 15, 2005

CHICAGO, March 14 - The police said Monday that they were increasingly focused on religion as the motive for a man's murderous rampage through a church service on Saturday at a suburban Milwaukee hotel, promising a full investigation even though the killings ended in suicide.

The local pastor of the Living Church of God, Randy L. Gregory, who was killed along with his 16-year-old son, appears to have been executed, the authorities said, while others among the seven dead and four injured were shot at random.

An earlier theory that the gunman, Terry Ratzmann, may have been upset about losing his job has been discarded after the police found that he had long known his contract as a computer technician for GE Healthcare would end on March 25. The authorities also said they found no evidence to support church members' reports that Mr. Ratzmann, 44, suffered from depression, and said that he was not on medication.

So while they remain unable to explain why Mr. Ratzmann stormed out of services two weeks before - or even whether the sermon that upset him was given via videotape by the church's international leader, Roderick C. Meredith, or by Mr. Gregory - the police see the little-known church as the key.

"We believe that the motive has something to do with the church and the church services more so than any other possible motive," Capt. Phil Horter of the Brookfield, Wis., Police Department said at a news conference on Monday. "We're looking at the church totality, whether it's members of the church, members of the hierarchy of the church, the sermons of the church," he added.

Investigators are combing through some 1,000 e-mail messages and other files, about 70 of them encrypted, on three computers seized from the home where Mr. Ratzmann lived with his mother and sister, and one from his office. A message left on the Ratzmanns' answering machine on Monday was not returned.

"You're looking for logic in an illogical act," the Waukesha County district attorney, Paul Bucher, told reporters on Monday.

The Living Church of God, an offshoot of a sect seen by some as a cult, the Worldwide Church of God, is a fringe group that advocates literal adherence to the Bible, observes a Saturday Sabbath, rejects the Holy Trinity concept and frequently focuses on a coming apocalypse. The national director of church administration, Charles Bryce, disputed reports about Mr. Ratzmann's angry departure from the Feb. 26 service but declined to discuss that week's videotaped sermon.

"We are a peaceful church," said Mr. Bryce, who flew to Wisconsin from the church's headquarters in North Carolina on Sunday to counsel local church members.

The police said Monday that Mr. Ratzmann purchased the 9-millimeter handgun used in Saturday's shootings last June. They said he was seen at the hotel on Saturday morning holding a briefcase, and apparently returned home, where the briefcase - containing a Bible - was found, before bursting into the hotel ballroom brandishing the handgun 20 minutes after the 12:30 p.m. service began.

Mr. Gregory and his family are believed to have been targets, the authorities said, while others were hit randomly. Four victims, including the Gregorys, died of single gunshots to the chest, while the others were shot two to four times each.

Tapes of several 911 calls from church members reveal chaos, with people wailing and screaming in the background.

"Many, many, many, many fired, shot," a breathless man told the operator, struggling to get out the name of the hotel where the shooting occurred, and mistakenly identifying it as a Marriott, rather than a Sheraton. "I don't know how many were shot, a lot of them."

One woman identified Mr. Ratzmann and even said he had been depressed.

"Oh my, oh no, oh no, oh no, Gloria is dead, oh no, oh no, oh no, there's at least - how many are on the floor? - 5 to 10," the woman says. "Five to 10 at least, oh my, one of my friends is laying on the floor, I think she's dead. This is a massacre."

Gloria Critari, 50, was indeed among the victims identified Sunday.

"All of a sudden we heard bang like a firecracker, but it was so loud and then again and again," the woman continued. "My husband pushed me down to the floor, my son. We all went to the floor, everybody.

"Right after this we're having a potluck and then an entertainment show this evening," she added. "I think it's all on hold."


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