Alleged World Changers gunman from Riverdale

Troubled past follows suspect from Maryland

Floyd Palmer

Floyd Palmer

RIVERDALE — A Riverdale man remained behind bars Thursday, after police allege he fatally shot a man at a Fulton County megachurch.

Floyd Palmer, 51, originally waived his scheduled first court appearance, then changed his mind. He will appear before a magistrate judge at 11 a.m. today. He’ll hear the charges against him and will have the opportunity to formally request bond.

Fulton County Police and Clayton County Police searched Palmer’s apartment at 1116 Garden Walk Lake Drive in Riverdale hours after Gregory McDowell, 39, of Union City, was gunned down while leading at least 20 worshippers in prayer Wednesday at World Changers Church International in College Park. The Clayton County Bomb Squad was called to the apartment, just in case it had been booby-trapped.

“We were looking for anything that might be related to the shooting, that would give us some idea of the motive,” Fulton County Police Cpl. Kay Lester said. “We did not locate a weapon at his home.”

Investigators attended McDowell’s autopsy Thursday to determine how many times he’d been shot, but declined to release that information. They found a dozen .38-caliber shell casings in the megachurch chapel.

Palmer is a former employee of the church, and functioned as a “Vision keeper,” part of a group whose duties are to organize the chapel, according to police. He resigned in August for “personal reasons,” according to Lester.

“Palmer calmly walked into the church chapel, opened gunfire and calmly walked out, without saying anything to anyone,” Lester said. “McDowell was shot when multiple shots were fired inside the chapel but it is unconfirmed on how many times he was struck.”

Multiple news outlets report that Palmer, who was taken into custody at Lenox Square in Buckhead hours after the shooting at the church, was committed to a Maryland psychiatric hospital in 2004. He was charged with attempted murder and assault among other charges in a shooting at a Baltimore mosque in 2001, but eventually was found not criminally responsible to lesser charges. According to court records, Palmer was released in 2006, subject to conditions that were to remain in effect for five years. The megachurch, started by well known televangelist Creflo Dollar 26 years ago, draws its members from all over the metro Atlanta area — including Clayton and Henry counties — and has satellite churches across the country, including one in Gwinnett County.