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AMES, Iowa — The man who police say shot and killed two women before killing himself Thursday had been arrested days before on harassment charges in connection to one of the victims, officials said Friday.

Authorities identified the shooter as Johnathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, of Boone, Iowa, who they say confronted three women in the parking lot of Cornerstone Church on Thursday evening, said Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald at a news conference Friday.

Whitlatch shot and killed two women, who were identified as Eden Montang, 22, and Vivian Flores, 21, both students at Iowa State University. One of the women had previously been in a relationship with Whitlatch. The third woman was not injured.

Whitlatch did not attempt to enter the church after committing the “targeted act of violence,” Fitzgerald said.  He died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Fitzgerald said.

Two days before the shooting, Whitlatch had been charged with harassment and impersonating a public official, and the Tuesday charges were “directly related” to one of the victims, Fitzgerald said.

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The shooter used a 9 mm pistol and authorities later found 9 mm ammunition in his truck along with a receipt of purchase from one hour before the shooting, officials said.

The shooting happened just before 7 p.m. local time as about 80 college and high school students were in the auditorium of Cornerstone Church, a megachurch 30 miles north of Des Moines, where a bible study group was being held.

“We are grieving deeply,” said Mark Vance, with the Salt Company youth ministry at Cornerstone Church, in a statement Thursday. “Tonight, a tragic shooting occurred involving two young members of our Cornerstone Church community …Our Ministry staff are available to support all those impacted, and we will continue to fully cooperate with authorities as they complete their full investigation.”

Court records show the suspect had several domestic cases where he was accused of violent or inappropriate actions toward women, including one incident that led to criminal charges.

One woman he previously dated and had a child with filed and received a domestic abuse protective order in 2017 after she said the suspect grabbed her by the throat and made a motion as if to punch her, but stopped before the blow landed. The woman wrote he threatened to come to her home and kill her.

He was also charged in November after a woman accused him of groping her at a bar. He faced charges of intent to commit sexual assault, an aggravated misdemeanor, after surveillance footage confirmed the incident, records show.

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People console each other after a shooting outside Cornerstone Church on Thursday, June 2, 2022 in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the shooting was an “act of senseless violence.”

“Tonight’s act of senseless violence took the lives of two innocent victims at their place of worship. Kevin and I grieve for the families who have suffered an unfathomable loss,” Reynolds wrote on Twitter. “And while the investigation continues and we learn more, we ask that Iowans pray for the victims and their families, the members of Cornerstone Church, and the entire Ames community.”

The Ames shooting follows several high-profile mass shootings. Ten people were killed at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, on May 14. Last week, 19 students and two teachers died in a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. And on Wednesday, four people were killed a medical building in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Meanwhile on Thursday, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass sweeping gun control legislation.

Cornerstone Church describes itself as a “multigenerational church with a passion to reach the next generation of college students with the Gospel.” It sits just south of Lake Wesley amid sprawling fields. According to its website, the church was founded in 1994 from a college ministry at ISU called The Salt Company, which is still the name of the church’s university ministry.

About 1,300 students gather to worship at Cornerstone every Thursday night during the school year, according to The Salt Company‘s website says.

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