Pastor, church employee among 3 killed in Florida

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BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – A Florida man killed his wife and another woman Thursday, then headed to the church where his wife worked and fatally shot the pastor, authorities said.

Police were searching for Andres “Andy” Avalos, 33. The Manatee County sheriff’s office said he killed James “Tripp” Battle, 31, at the Bayshore Baptist Church. A witness to the shooting told deputies at the scene about the other two victims, said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

Investigators went to the house and found the bodies of 33-year-old Amber Avalos and the other woman whose name hasn’t been released because her relatives haven’t been notified. Amber Avalos worked at the church as its nursery and children’s director. The Avaloses have six children and Bristow said they are in the custody of a relative.

He said it has not been determined how the women were killed.

Detectives say Andy Avalos was last seen near the church driving a gold Chevrolet Suburban in Bradenton, which is about 35 miles south of Tampa along Florida’s Gulf coast.

“We don’t know if whether or not he is still alive,” Bristow said. “We presume he is.”

The Bayshore Baptist website said that Andy Avalos’ father also is a minister.  It says Battle and his wife Joy, who is the church’s secretary, have a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.

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