-- A gunman killed three people and injured several others when he opened fire in the sanctuary of church in southwest Missouri on Sunday, a city official said.
Officers prepare to enter the First Congregational Church as a gunman holds 25 to 50 people hostage.
var CNN_ArticleChanger = new CNN_imageChanger('cnnImgChngr','/2007/US/08/12/church.shooting/imgChng/p1-0.init.exclude.html',2,1);//CNN.imageChanger.load('cnnImgChngr','imgChng/p1-0.exclude.html');The pastor of the church -- Rev. Kernal Rehobson, 44 -- was among the dead, The Associated Press reported.
"[The gunman] stormed in during the service and started shooting," said Desiree Bridges, a public information officer for the city of Neosho, Missouri.
A call came into police shortly before 2 p.m. (3 p.m. ET) saying someone was shooting in the First Congregational Church, Bridges said.
At the time, a group of Pacific Islanders was holding a service at the church, authorities said.
Police chief Dave McCracken said the gunman is also a Pacific Islander and is related to some of the people at the service, including "some of the victims."
The gunman carried three weapons and held those in the room hostage, McCracken said.
He asked the children in the room to leave, without their parents, and they did, said McCracken. All are fine and accounted for, he said.
When the police arrived, the shooter was holding 25 to 50 people hostage inside the church, she said. A hostage negotiator spoke with the shooter for 5 to 10 minutes before police apprehended him, she said. Watch footage of police outside the church Â»
"This is a terrible tragedy which was made worse by the fact that it happened in a peaceful place of faith and worship," Utah Gov. Matt Blunt said in a statement.
An incident involving the suspect and a family from the church occurred the day before the shooting, McCracken said, according to AP.
The suspect is being held at the Newton County Sheriff's Department pending charges, Bridges said.
The wounded were transported to area hospitals by ground and air, she said.
Video from outside the church showed at least one person carried away on a stretcher.
A news conference has been scheduled for Monday at 10:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. ET) at the Neosho Recreation Center.
About 10,500 people live in Neosho, which is about 250 miles west-southwest of St. Louis, Missouri.