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Living Church of God mourning massacre
of members in Brookfield, prays for injured

(Posted March 16, 2005)


A spokesman for the Living Church of God (LCG), headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., expressed the church's shock and dismay over the shooting deaths of eight of its members March 12 during a Sabbath service in Wisconsin.

A 44-year-old member of the Brookfield, Wis., congregation of the LCG, Terry Ratzmann of New Berlin, Wis., walked into services in a Sheraton hotel during the sermonette and began shooting people with a 9-mm handgun. Within minutes eight church members lay dead or dying, including the gunman, whose last act was to shoot himself.

Church spokesman J.D. Crockett said LCG members are praying for the families of the victims and the family of Mr. Ratzmann.

The dead are Pastor Randy Gregory, 51, and his son James, 16, of Gurnee, Wis.; Gloria Critari, 55, of Cudahy, Wis.; Harold Diekmeier, 74, of Delafield, Wis.; Gerald A. Miller, 44, of Erin, Wis.; Bart Oliver, 15, of Waukesha, Wis.; Richard Reeves, 58, of Cudahy, Wis.; and Mr. Ratzmann.

Injured were Mr. Gregory's wife, Marjean, in critical but stable condition as of this writing; Matthew P. Kaulbach, 21, of Pewaukee, Wis.; Lindsay Maughmer, 10; and Angel M. Varichak, 19, of Helenville, Wis.

Mr. Ratzmann had been a member of the LCG for several years. He had first attended with the Worldwide Church of God as a teenager. He was not married and lived in New Berlin with his mother and sister.

Friends and acquaintances of Mr. Ratzmann said they were stunned, describing him as a friendly, dedicated and generous church member and neighbor.

LCG members said Mr. Ratzmann, a computer programmer, had been upset for reasons that may have been related to the church, possibly a taped sermon by LCG founder Roderick Meredith played in services Feb. 26 or perhaps "some [other] aspect of the church," according to a statement attributed to district attorney Paul Bucher.

Although reports in the national and international news media tried to link the motive for the shooting to doctrines of the Churches of God including the LCG, Brookfield police chief Daniel Tushaus had found no clear motive. Mr. Ratzmann apparently did not leave a suicide note, although police were still examining three computers he owned that contain numerous encrypted files.

Pastor Gregory and his wife, the former Marjean Strommen, both attended Ambassador College, Big Sandy, Texas, in the 1970s. He graduated in 1976 and she in 1977. He was originally from Farwell, Texas, and she from Blanchardville, Wis.

To send cards and letters of condolence or donations to a special fund to help with medical expenses of the injured, write LCG headquarters at:

Living Church of God
2301 Crown Centre Dr.
Charlotte, N.C. 28227, U.S.A.

Donations for the special "Victims' Fund" need to be clearly marked as such.

The LCG's home office informed The Journal that it cannot divulge members' home addresses but will promptly forward cards and letters to any of its members in Wisconsin.


The Journal Articles and Pictures on
Living Church of God Shooting at Brookfield


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