Jonathan Lee Whitlatch shoots Eden Mariah Montang ex girlfriend and third party Vivian Renee Flores outside Ames church in Iowa.
A gunman in Iowa shot dead his ex-girlfriend and her friend before turning the gun on himself outside of a church in Ames on Thursday. The murder suicide comes days after the boyfriend was arrested for harassing his former lover just days before.
Jonathan Lee Whitlatch, 33, fatally shot, Eden Mariah Montang, 22, and Vivian Renee Flores, 21, in the parking lot outside Cornerstone Church of Armes, near Des Moines, police said.
Whitlatch is alleged to have shot both victims during a domestic incident with a 9MM pistol following a fallout with Montang, Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald with the Story County Sheriff’s Office said during a Friday press conference.
Whitlatch and Montang had recently broken up and Whitlatch had been harassing his ex-girlfriend. He had just been charged Tuesday with harassment and impersonation of a public official. Both of these charges were related to Montang as well as the woman pursuing a restraining order against the former boyfriend, police said.
The suspect had also been awaiting trial on a charge of sexual abuse stemming from an incident last October when he twice put his hand down a woman’s pants and attempted to penetrate her at a nightclub in Cedar Falls, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. The alleged victim in that episode was not Montang nor Flores.
The incident was caught on surveillance cameras. Whitlatch told authorities he didn’t remember much about the incident because he’d been drinking. Deposition interviews in the case were scheduled to start later this month.
Nicholas Lennie, chief deputy of the Story County Sheriff’s Office, said that they were aware of the charge.
Fitzgerald added that he had posted bond in the domestic case and was due to appear in court on June 10.
Authorities conducted a search of Whitlatch’s residence after the shooting and discovered ammo for the 9MM pistol that had purchased just an hour prior to the shooting, as well as an AR-15 unrelated to the shooting.
Montang and Flores were attending a bible study at Cornerstone Church in Ames, where both went to Iowa State University.
It was a program both were encouraged to attend that co-mingled Iowa State students with high schoolers. Up to 80 people were in attendance at the time of the shooting.
‘He was there for a specific purpose, which he accomplished,’ the sheriff said.
Cornerstone Church released a statement confirming that the women killed were ‘young members of our community,’ but did not give other details about the victims or shooter, citing the ongoing police investigation.
The attack came during the Summer Salt, a program for college-aged members.
It is estimated that around 1,300 students gather weekly for the program. Yesterday was the first meeting of the summer.
When deputies arrived on scene they found all three dead.
‘This appears to be an isolated, single-shooter incident,’ Lennie told the Des Moines Register.
Adding, ‘We prepare and we train hard for this, but when it happens, it’s obviously chaotic until you get it under control,’
‘I would also like to take a moment to just extend our condolences to those involved, the victims involved, the families, the witnesses that were here at the church.’
Authorities continue to investigate.