Three people are dead, including a suspected gunman, in a shooting outside an Iowa church Thursday evening, officials said.

The shooting occurred just before 7 p.m. outside Cornerstone Church in Ames, and deputies found two females and a male dead, Story County sheriff’s Capt. Nicholas Lennie said.

The male has been identified as the shooter, and there is no threat to the community, Lennie said. The deceased were not immediately identified.

Callers to 911 reported that a gunman in the parking lot had shot two people, he said.

There was an event at the church involving college-age students, Sheriff Paul H. Fitzgerald said, but there was no shooting activity inside.

No other injuries were reported.

A motive was not known, and the investigation was in its early stages, Lennie said.

Whether the shooter killed himself was also under investigation. The three people were dead when law enforcement arrived, Lennie said.

Investigators believe it was an isolated incident, officials said.

A statement from Cornerstone Church Thursday night reads as follows: 

“Tonight, a tragic shooting occurred involving two young members of our Cornerstone Church community. It is believed that an adult male shot these two victims and then took his own life. Due to the ongoing investigation, we are not able to give any details at this time. 

“We can say, however, that we are more than saddened by the events that transpired. Our hearts break for all involved, and we are praying for everyone affected, especially the family of the victims. 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.”

“We sincerely appreciate the responsiveness of the Story County Sheriff’s Department, Ames PD, and all Law Enforcement Officials who have handled this matter with exceptional professionalism and compassion. Please join us in praying for all affected and their families.   

“Psalm 34:18 says, ‘The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.’ Right now, we are brokenhearted and we need God to draw near to us.”

The church will host a prayer service Friday at 10 a.m. and all are welcome to attend, according to the church’s post.

Iowa State University leadership released a statement Thursday night as well: 

“Dear Iowa State Community,

We are saddened to learn of the shooting that occurred this evening, June 2, in the parking lot of Cornerstone Church in Ames. We know many in our campus community attend services and are members of the church.

This is a tragic loss and our condolences are with the families and friends of the victims. As we wait to learn more about what happened, we ask that everyone extend care and compassion to one another.”

What else we know:

  • The incident happened shortly before 7 p.m.
  • The shooter, a man, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
  • The two victims are women. 
  • Cornerstone Church is located along Highway 30, just southeast of Ames. 
  • The Ames Police Department directed Local 5 to the Story County Sheriff’s Office since the incident happened in their jurisdiction. 
  • The sheriff’s office will provide an update on the shooting Friday at 10:30 a.m. 
  • Cornerstone Church hosts The Salt Company, an Iowa State University ministry that meets every Thursday night.
  • Thursday night marked the start of the ministry’s “Summer Salt” sermons. The event was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., according to the group’s Facebook page

What we don’t know:

  • It remains unclear if the gunman had any type of relationship with the victims prior to the shooting. 
  • It remains unclear if the gunman had any past history with the church. 
  • The motive remains unclear. Local 5 cannot confirm if the shooter targeted anyone. 
  • The identities of the victims and the shooter are unknown. This is something Local 5 anticipates will be confirmed by law enforcement after family members are notified.