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Suspected Atlanta gunman was accused of prior shooting: police

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The man accused of gunning down the leader of a prayer service at an Atlanta megachurch on Wednesday was charged 11 years ago with shooting a man outside a mosque in Baltimore, police said on Thursday.

Details of 52-year-old Floyd Palmer's past emerged as police in Georgia searched for a motive and the weapon used in the shooting on Wednesday at World Changers Church International in suburban College Park, Georgia.

Palmer faces murder charges after police said he walked calmly into a chapel on the church property and killed Greg McDowell, a 39-year-old church member and volunteer who was leading a prayer service.

Palmer, a former church maintenance worker who resigned in August for personal reasons, fled in a car, but was arrested late on Wednesday at a North Atlanta shopping mall after a manhunt, authorities said.

The church, one of the largest in the United States, is led by the Reverend Creflo Dollar, a prominent preacher. Dollar was not at the church at the time of the shooting.

As many as 25 people were inside the chapel during the shooting, but no one else was hurt.

Palmer waived a court appearance before a judge on Thursday and remains in jail.

Police searched his apartment and car but did not find a weapon, Fulton County Police Department spokeswoman Corporal Kay Lester said.

"No motive has been determined at this time," she said.

Palmer was previously charged with shooting a man in Baltimore on June 30, 2001, Baltimore police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said.

Silbert said Palmer walked up behind the victim and fired one shot into his lower back.

"Investigators believe that the suspect attempted to continue firing, but the gun jammed," Silbert said.

The shooting occurred outside a mosque, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. According to Maryland court records, a man named Floyd Palmer was charged with attempted murder and found not criminally responsible after pleading guilty to assault.

The newspaper reported that Palmer's former mother-in-law said he served about 18 months in a psychiatric facility after the shooting and that the victim remained paralyzed.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney)

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