Correction: The name of alleged gunman Johnathan Lee Whitlatch was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.
An alleged gunman from Boone killed two Iowa State University students Thursday outside a church in Ames after having been recently arrested in relation to a “domestic situation” with one of the victims, according to police.
Authorities released more information about the deadly shooting outside Cornerstone Church of Ames during a news conference Friday morning at the Story County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada.
Johnathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, of Boone allegedly shot and killed two Iowa State University students — 22-year-old Eden Mariah Montang and 21-year-old Vivian Renee Flores — in the church parking lot at about 6:50 pm Thursday before turning the gun on himself.
Montang, of Boone, was a senior in the College of Human Sciences, and Flores, of West Des Moines, was a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, according to a statement signed by Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen and other university officials .
They were at the church Thursday night with a third woman, another friend who was not injured in the shooting, for a Bible study service with The Salt Company, the church’s university ministry.
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Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald called the shooting a targeted attack by Whitlatch — he and Montang had a relationship that had recently ended.
Whitlatch had been charged May 31 by the Ames Police Department and arrested in Boone County for third-degree harassment and impersonating a public official, directly related to the end of the relationship with Montang. He had posted bond on the charges and was scheduled to appear in court June 10.
“I think he was there for a specific purpose, which he accomplished,” Fitzgerald said.
Authorities received multiple 911 calls about the shooting at 6:51 pm Thursday, Fitzgerald said. Deputies were dispatched one minute later and arrived at 6:56.
At 6:59 pm police confirmed the shooter was down from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, according to Fitzgerald, who said the weapon was a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol.
He said it was still being investigated whether the weapon was legally within Whitlatch’s possession.
Ames Police Department Commander Jason Tuttle had been inside the church as a congregant and also responded, arriving at about the same time as the first deputies did, Fitzgerald said. He added that no officers fired shots — the shooter had shot himself before they arrived.
Fitzgerald said authorities searched Whitlatch’s vehicle, which he drove to the church, and residence following the shooting. An AR-15 rifle with ammunition was found at the home, but the weapon played no role in the shooting at the church, he said.
More 9mm ammunition was found in Whitlatch’s pickup truck — some of it purchased the hour before the shooting from a business in West Des Moines.
“Everything that’s been presented to me, at this point, indicates that he’s a lone individual, and we do not suspect others being charged down the road, but that will all be answered as we complete this investigation,” Fitzgerald said.
He added that investigators, including agents from the FBI, would be looking at social media and doing interviews with people at the church that may have known more about the relationship between Montang and Whitlatch.
“There’s a whole host of things that we still need to complete in order to bring a full understanding as to what happened and why,” he said.
More:Here’s what we know about the deadly Ames church shooting