Governor Kim Reynolds says last night’s “tragic” shooting in Ames shows places where large groups gather need to develop plans to deal with an active shooter situation. Two female members of the largest church in Ames — both Iowa State students — were shot to death in the church parking lot last night by a man who’d been charged with harassing one of the victims.

“This wasn’t at a school, but we need to work with churches. I think we’re going to have to work with different organizations that host large groups to make sure that they have a plan in place and that they’re looking for early warning signs,” Reynolds told reporters today in Grinnell.

Last week, after 19 students and two teachers were shot to death in a Texas school, Reynolds highlighted the Iowa law that requires schools to have active shooter response plans and conduct yearly drills. The governor today is emphasizing those are the kind of guidelines churches and other large venues in Iowa need to follow.

“It’s important that you not only have a plan, but you also practice it,” Reynolds said, “because when you’re in that situation, it’s not easy, you know. It’s hard to react.”

Democrats like Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne say it’s time to address gun violence and enact measures like the ones President Biden outlined in a national address last night. Reynolds, who opposes new gun restrictions, said “a lot of things” have contributed to the spike in shootings.

“It’s the breakdown of the family. It’s the isolation. It’s two years of COVID,” Reynolds said. “It’s just making sure that we can address mental health and provide the services. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in Iowa. We need to continue to work on that.”

Reynolds told reporters the shooting in Ames appears to have been a targeted attack and mental health may have played a role. “My heart grieves for the families of the two victims,” Reynolds said, “just a senseless attack on two people getting ready to go into their place of worship.”

Hundreds gathered this morning for a prayer service at the Cornerstone Church in Ames where two women were shot and killed last night. Terry Montang told the congregation his daughter, Eden, was a person of faith.

“She died for her faith,” he said, pausing to gather himself before he added, his voice breaking: “I’m proud to have been her father.”

The church’s lead pastor says the shooting happened just as a summer program for Iowa State students was to begin inside the church. Eden Montang and Vivian Flores were ISU students and the pastor says both had been active in the church’s youth ministry.

(Tim Dill, KGRN, Grinnell contributed to this story. Reporting in Ames by Grant Gerlock of Iowa Public Radio.)