As previously reported, 33-year-old Johnathan Lee Whitlatch fatally shot two women before killing himself in the parking lot of an Iowa church. The women were friends and students at Iowa State University; they were walking together to the church for a weekly service that is popular with ISU and high school students, the sheriff said.
About 80 other students were inside the megachurch at the time of the shooting.
About 12 hours later, the community at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa gathered together and tapped into the great hope only a follower of Christ can experience in the midst of grief.
"We're going to celebrate the resurrection with tears," declared lead Pastor Mark Vance. "We're going to trust in a God who is bigger than our pain. We're not going to act like our pain isn't real. It is. But we're also not going to act like God isn't real, because he is.
In one unplanned moment, the father of one of the victims, Eden Montang, got up to speak.
"Hello, I'm Terry Montang," he began. "My daughter died here last night. She was murdered. The one thing I want everyone to know is that she walked the walk. She died for her faith. I'm proud to have been her father."
Cornerstone's founding pastor, Troy Nesbitt, talked about a Savior who weeps with his people and who will one day dry the tears of every believer, like he did with Eden Montang and the other victim, Vivian Flores.
"Our precious students who died left this place from our parking lot, were rushed into your presence, the greatest worship they've ever been a part of," Nesbitt said.
Whitlatch had been romantically involved with one of the women and faced a court hearing next week on a charge of harassing her.