Floyd Palmer was part of a security detail at a Baltimore mosque in June 2001 when he shot another man working with him, wounding him in the back, according to a police report obtained on Thursday. Palmer tried to fire again, but the gun jammed. When other people ran over to him, he turned the gun on them, but it wouldn’t fire, according to the documents.
During a pretrial psychological evaluation, Palmer said the shooting occurred in part because he believed NFL player Ray Lewis and members of his own family were out to get him.
Palmer was committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2004 after pleading not criminally responsible to the mosque shooting. Despite objections from prosecutors, a judge released him in 2006 on the condition he abide by a number of restrictions for five years.
It’s not clear when he made his way south. He had been working at World Changers Church International in an Atlanta suburb, but quit in August for “personal reasons,” Fulton County Police Cpl. Kay Lester said.
On Wednesday, authorities said Palmer, 51, walked into a chapel as Greg McDowell, 39, led a morning prayer service for a group of about 25 people.
He fired several shots, according to a witness, but only McDowell was hit. Authorities were trying to figure out if the two men knew each other.
Palmer calmly left the chapel and police arrested him several hours later when they spotted his station wagon at a mall in suburban Atlanta. Police said they have not found the gun.
Visibly distraught members of McDowell’s family showed up at the Fulton County jail for Palmer’s first court hearing Thursday, but he waived his appearance.
Palmer faces murder and firearms charges. His next hearing is Nov. 8.
The Fulton County public defender is representing Palmer, but no one there was immediately available to comment.
In Baltimore, officials were taking a closer look at the 2001 shooting. According to the pretrial psychological evaluation, Palmer said the shooting occurred because one of his cousins, Richard Lollar, was killed in Atlanta shortly after the 2000 Super Bowl.
Lewis, a Baltimore Ravens linebacker, was charged in the stabbing death of Lollar and another man, but he was exonerated. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice. Two other defendants were acquitted in the case.
Palmer said he shot Reuben Jerry Ash outside the mosque because he believed Ash was being paid by Lewis to “get rid of him,” according to the psychological evaluation. The shooting left Ash paralyzed.
A judge released Palmer from the psychiatric hospital on the condition he live with his mother, not own or possess a weapon and continue treatment for the next five years. The judge noted Palmer’s lack of a history of mental illness, his two-decade employment with the Social Security Administration and his full remission from mental illness.
The state attorney general’s office objected, saying Palmer did not understand that he remained mentally ill. That “indicates a high likelihood that he will not be compliant,” their response stated, adding there “was no real evidence Mr. Palmer would not be a danger to himself or others if released with or without conditions.”
In Atlanta, the violence upset members and neighbors of the church, which is one of the largest in the United States, claiming 30,000 members at the main campus and a ministry of satellite churches across the country. It is led by the Rev. Creflo Dollar, who was not there at the time of the shooting.
Along with Bishop Eddie Long, Dollar is one of the most prominent African-American preachers based around Atlanta who have built successful ministries on the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches.
Dollar didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, but he preached Wednesday evening at a Bible study in the campus’s larger World Dome sanctuary.
“We pray for both families and then we pray for every family that’s in here tonight,” he said.