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Fight at mall ends in fatal shooting

Gunman kills estranged wife, injures two others

Police investigate a triple shooting Sunday at St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton, N.J.

Associated Press

Police investigate a triple shooting Sunday at St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton, N.J.

CLIFTON, N.J. — A gunman drove across the country to confront his estranged wife, then killed her in a church vestibule as Sunday services let out, authorities said. Two others were injured in the attack, which sent churchgoers scrambling for safety.

The gunman fled, and police were searching for him and warned people that he was believed to be armed.

About 200 people were attending services inside St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton when the gunman opened fire before noon. Churchgoers described bedlam after the shots rang out.

"Kids were crying. People were screaming," Suja Alummoottil told the Record of Bergen County.

Police Detective Capt. Robert Rowan identified the slain woman as 24-year-old Reshma James and the gunman as 27-year-old Joseph Pallipurath of Sacramento, Calif.

Police did not identify the other two victims, but Rowan told the Star-Ledger of Newark that all three were shot in the head and that the other two, a 47-year-old woman and 23-year-old man, were in critical condition.

A spokeswoman for St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, where the victims were being treated, declined to comment on their conditions.

Alummoottil, 40, said Pallipurath appeared angry when he confronted James in the vestibule as the service was concluding. Alummoottil said she went to get help and, a few seconds later, heard three shots.

Rowan said James had recently moved from California to New Jersey to escape an abusive marriage and had filed a restraining order against Pallipurath.

Members of the church are mostly first-generation immigrants and their children from the southern Indian state of Kerala, the church's Web site says.

Police sought a young gunman Sunday after a shooting the day before at a busy Seattle-area shopping mall that killed one teenager and seriously wounded another. At least four people were detained and questioned after the shooting at Southcenter Mall, police Officer Mike Murphy said. The shooting stemmed from a fight between two groups of people and may have been gang-related, he said, adding that police expected to identify the gunman and make an arrest soon. The gunman and the two victims were all in their late teens or early 20s. The Southcenter Mall in Tukwila was jammed with pre-Thanksgiving shoppers when the gunman fired shots after apparently getting into a quarrel with the two victims, police said. The mall, which covers 1.7-million square feet and includes more than 240 stores, reopened as usual Sunday morning with security officers visible.

Gunman kills estranged wife, injures two others 11/23/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 10:18am]
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