An assailant walked into a church in Georgia on Wednesday and fatally shot a man leading a prayer, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta said.

The shooter, who was wearing a suit and tie, fled the scene.

Authorities kept area schools on lockdown for several hours following the attack.

The victim, a 39-year-old male, was apparently shot at close range, Fulton County Police told the television station.

None of the more than 20 other people in the church at the time of the shooting was hurt.

Police identified the suspect as Floyd Palmer, 52, a former volunteer who resigned from World Changers Church International a few months ago.

The church, which says it has some 30,000 members, is part of the vast religious enterprise created by evangelist Creflo Dollar.

Police deployed helicopters and blocked streets in pursuit of Palmer, who left the scene in a car. EFE