Church usher says he saw Roeder put gun to Tiller's head

WICHITA, Kan. — Gary Hoepner was grabbing a doughnut at the snack table at his church with George Tiller when he saw a man walk up, put a gun to the Wichita abortion doctor's head and pull the trigger, Hoepner testified in Sedgwick County District Court Tuesday morning.

Hoepner then pointed to Scott Roeder as the man with the gun the morning of May 31.

Hoepner was testifying in Roeder's preliminary hearing on murder charges in Tiller's death.

Church had already begun, Hoepner said. He and Tiller were serving as ushers that morning.

"It was surreal," Hoepner said of the shooting.

"It sounded like a little popgun."

Then Tiller fell. Hoepner knew the gun was real.

Hoepner said he followed Roeder out an east door at Reformation Lutheran Church.

As Hoepner ran across the grass, he said Roeder looked over his shoulder and yelled, "I've got a gun, and I'll shoot you."

"I believed him and I stopped," Hoepner said. "I don't argue with a man with a gun."

Hoepner said he ran to his truck in the parking lot and called 911.

He also said he saw Keith Martin, another church member, run after Roeder. Roeder also threatened Martin with the gun, Hoepner testified.

When Martin heard the gunshot, he testified he thought it was a firecracker. Then he saw Tiller on the floor.

Martin had also been ushering that morning and had been drinking coffee and looking out a window waiting for late arrivals.

Martin said he saw a man running across the parking lot. Martin cut through the Fellowship Hall and attempted to intercept the man, who ran toward a car. Martin stopped short of the car.

"Move," the man said.

Martin stood his ground. But the man then aimed a gun. Martin could see down the barrel of what looked like a small caliber handgun.

"I'll shoot you," the man said.

Martin moved.

In court, Martin testified he recognized Roeder as the man who pointed the gun at him that morning.

Read the full story at

Related stories from McClatchy DC