Troopers identify church shooter as pastor

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Alaska State Troopers said a pastor was the gunman in the Big Lake church shooting that left two men dead.

Phillip Mielke shot the men when he caught them burglarizing the Big Lake Community Chapel Thursday morning, troopers said.

The dead men were identified as Christopher Lee Palmer, 31, of Big Lake and Francis Marion Jones IV, 23, of Wasilla.

Palmer died at the scene. His body was found outside on the lawn.

Jones apparently fled to a friend's home a few miles away. Troopers believe he most likely left in a small car after the shooting before officers arrived.

Troopers found Jones dead shortly after noon. A woman called authorities to report a male friend had come to her house suffering from gunshot wounds.

Troopers said they'll consult with the district attorney's office, which generally decides whether a shooting is justified and whether to file charges.

Troopers were called to Big Lake Community Chapel at about 5 a.m. Thursday, said Capt. Dennis Casanovas.

The caller said someone affiliated with the chapel had interrupted a burglary and shot at two burglars.

The man found dead at the chapel was not immediately identified. Troopers said Palmer's name was determined through fingerprint comparisons conducted by technicians from the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory.

Big Lake is an unincorporated community of about 3,000 on the shore of Big Lake, 13 miles southwest of Wasilla.

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