Armed congregants kill gunman who shot 2 at Texas church

A gunman who killed two people during a Texas church service was fatally shot within seconds by armed congregants, said state officials, who hailed the state’s gun laws that allow weapons in places of worship.

Posted: Dec 30, 2019 10:49 AM

WHITE SETTLEMENT, Texas (AP) — A gunman who killed two people during a Texas church service was fatally shot within seconds by armed congregants, said state officials, who hailed the state’s gun laws that allow weapons in places of worship.

More than 240 people were in the West Freeway Church of Christ in the Fort Worth-area town of White Settlement during Sunday’s shooting, authorities said.

Isabel Arreola told the Star-Telegram that she sat near the gunman and that she’d never seen him before Sunday’s service. She said he appeared to be wearing a disguise, perhaps a fake beard, and that he made her uncomfortable.

She said the man stood up, pulled a shotgun from his clothing, opened fire and was quickly shot by two congregants who were part of a volunteer security team.

“I was so surprised because I did not know that so many in the church were armed,” she said.

Tiffany Wallace told Dallas TV station KXAS that her father, Anton “Tony” Wallace, was one of the people killed. She said her father was a deacon at the church and had just handed out communion when the gunman approached him.

“I ran toward my dad and the last thing I remember is him asking for oxygen and I was just holding him, telling him I loved him and that he was going to make it,” Wallace said.

Wallace said her father was rushed to a hospital but he did not survive.

“You just wonder why? How can someone so evil, the devil, step into the church and do this,” she said.

At a news conference Sunday night, Texas Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the gunman was killed within six seconds of opening fire. Patrick hailed the state’s gun laws, including a measure enacted this year that affirmed the right of licensed handgun holders to carry a weapon in places of worship, unless the facility bans them.

That law was passed in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, which was also at a church. In the 2017 massacre at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, a man who opened fire on a Sunday morning congregation killed more than two dozen people. He later killed himself.

Patrick said the two congregants who drew their weapons saved “untold number of lives.”

Britt Farmer, senior minister of the church, said, “We lost two great men today, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Officials have not released the names of the victims or the gunman. FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said they’re working to identify the gunman’s motive, adding that he is “relatively transient” but had roots in the area.

DeSarno also said the gunman had been arrested multiple times in the past but declined to give details.

An elder at the church told the New York Times that one of those killed was a security guard who responded to the shooter, calling him a dear friend.

“He was trying to do what he needed to do to protect the rest of us,” said the elder, Mike Tinius.

“It’s extremely upsetting to see anyone committing violence,” he said.

Tinius said he didn’t know the gunman and that the shooting appeared to be random.

Farmer said church officials would not be making any comments Monday until giving a planned statement this evening following a closed meeting just for church members.

In a livestream of the church service, the gunman can be seen getting up from a pew and talking to someone at the back of the church before pulling out a gun and opening fire. Congregants can then be heard screaming and seen ducking under pews or running as papers fly to the floor.

Two people with minor injuries that were sustained while ducking for cover were treated at the scene, MedStar Mobile Healthcare spokeswoman Macara Trusty said.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott asked the state to pray for the victims, their loved ones and the community of White Settlement, about 8 miles (12 kilometers) west of Fort Worth.

“Places of worship are meant to be sacred, and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life,” Abbott said in a tweeted statement.

Sunday’s shooting in Texas was also the second attack on a religious gathering in the U.S. in less than 24 hours. On Saturday night, a man stabbed five people as they celebrated Hanukkah in an Orthodox Jewish community north of New York City.

In another attack in Texas in 1999, a gunman killed seven people in Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth before detonating an explosive device and killing himself.

Terre Haute
Few Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 69°
Robinson
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 66°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 74°
Rockville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 66°
Casey
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 71°
Brazil
Few Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 69°
Marshall
Few Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 69°
Hot Holiday Weekend
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 145750

Reported Deaths: 7005
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook917744618
Lake9864421
DuPage9192474
Kane7796274
Will6839320
Winnebago306796
McHenry208897
St. Clair1965137
Kankakee130265
Rock Island99629
Madison99169
Kendall98121
Champaign93012
Boone60221
DeKalb56719
Peoria54628
Sangamon44032
Jackson33519
Randolph2877
Stephenson2755
Ogle2684
McLean26713
Clinton24017
Macon23222
LaSalle22417
Union19319
Whiteside19215
Coles17317
Grundy1695
Iroquois1605
Tazewell1468
Warren1430
Knox1360
Cass1346
Morgan1303
Monroe12913
Williamson1224
Adams1061
Jefferson10617
McDonough10215
Lee982
Henry931
Vermilion772
Pulaski760
Marion680
Perry561
Douglas540
Macoupin543
Livingston502
Jasper477
Jo Daviess461
Montgomery461
Unassigned460
Christian454
Ford371
Jersey351
Woodford342
Bureau292
Franklin270
Menard240
Fayette233
Alexander220
Carroll222
Mason220
Wabash220
Mercer210
Piatt210
Washington210
Johnson200
Hancock191
Moultrie190
Shelby191
Crawford180
Logan160
Clark150
Fulton150
Massac150
Wayne141
Bond131
Effingham131
Schuyler130
Cumberland120
Brown100
Edgar100
De Witt90
Greene90
Marshall90
Saline90
Henderson80
Lawrence70
White60
Hamilton50
Richland40
Stark40
Pike30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10
Out of IL00

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 46915

Reported Deaths: 2681
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11499683
Lake5053242
Elkhart316443
Allen2717128
St. Joseph186366
Cass16369
Hamilton1518100
Hendricks1386100
Johnson1254118
Porter71237
Tippecanoe6778
Madison64864
Clark63844
Bartholomew58244
Howard56057
LaPorte55326
Kosciusko5124
Vanderburgh4806
Jackson4653
LaGrange4657
Noble45728
Hancock43735
Boone43443
Delaware42949
Marshall4273
Shelby42025
Floyd37144
Morgan32531
Montgomery29320
Grant29026
Clinton2852
Monroe26628
Dubois2646
White26010
Decatur24832
Henry24315
Lawrence23624
Vigo2288
Dearborn22723
Harrison21022
Warrick21029
Greene18432
Miami1812
Jennings17111
Putnam1688
Scott1607
DeKalb1594
Daviess14116
Orange13523
Wayne1346
Perry1279
Steuben1262
Franklin1248
Jasper1142
Ripley1147
Carroll1102
Wabash1102
Fayette987
Newton9710
Whitley884
Starke853
Randolph784
Huntington712
Wells711
Jefferson701
Fulton681
Jay680
Washington661
Knox630
Pulaski621
Clay604
Gibson592
Rush563
Adams481
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey360
Spencer351
Fountain302
Tipton301
Crawford290
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike90
Unassigned0193