Three dead after Iowa church shooting

Officials believe the shooter is one of the deceased
The cross is placed on the Bible.
The cross is placed on the Bible.
(manusapon kasosod / Getty Images)

Three people are dead after a shooting Thursday night in the parking lot of a church in Ames, Iowa. 

The suspected gunman is believed to be one of the deceased, Story County Sheriff Capt. Nicholas Lennie said, according to the Des Moines Register.

Police said that shortly before 7 p.m. local time they received several 911 calls to Ames' Cornerstone Church, which hosts a regular event Thursday evenings for its youth ministry.

Law enforcement said that the shooting occurred in the parking lot while people were inside of the church. 

Lennie said there is not an ongoing threat to the public and more details will be released later in the day. 

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley responded to the shooting by saying that he and his wife, Barbara, are "lifting up Cornerstone Church community in prayers tonight."

He tweeted that he is monitoring the situation and said, "Churches [should be] a place of worship not violence. Violence is always wrong."

Ames has a population of more than 60,000 people and is home to Iowa State University.

Cornerstone Church, as described by the Des Moines Register, is "a megachurch with dozens of staff."