Parishioners kill man who fatally shoots 2 at church: Police

In this still from a live-stream video provided by law enforcement, churchgoers take cover while a parishioner armed with a pistol assaults a man in the upper-left corner who is during a service at the West Freeway Church of Christ near the upper-center right of the Windows opened fire Sunday, December 29, 2019, in White Settlement, Texas. Photo: West Freeway Church of Christ / Courtesy of Law Enforcement via AP

WHITE BILLING: A man pulled out a shotgun at a church service in Texas and shot worshipers on Sunday. Two people were killed before he was shot by people who shot back, police said. At a press conference on Sunday evening, authorities praised the two parishioners who opened fire as part of a volunteer security team at Christ’s West Freeway Church in White Settlement. It was unclear whether the two people who were killed shot the shooter. “This team reacted quickly and within six seconds the shooting was over. Two of the parishioners who volunteered with the security forces drew their guns and immediately took out the killer to save countless lives, ”said Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who also welcomed the state’s gun laws. Church senior pastor Britt Farmer said, “We lost two great men today, but it could have been much worse.” Authorities said there were more than 240 parishioners in West Freeway Church at the time of the shooting. JP Bevering, chief of the White Settlement Police Department, said the shooter sat in a bench before standing up, removing a shotgun and shooting at a killed parishioner. He said the church security team then “removed the threat.” Officials did not publish the names of the victims or the gunman. FBI special agent in charge, Matthew DeSarno, said they were working to identify the gunman’s motive, adding that he was “relatively temporary” but had roots in the region. DeSarno also said the shooter had been arrested multiple times in the past but declined to provide details. An elder in the church told the New York Times that one of those killed was a security guard who responded to the shooter and called him a dear friend. “He was trying to do what he had to do to protect the rest of us,” said Elder Mike Tinius. “It is extremely annoying to see someone commit violence,” he said. Tinius said he did not know the shooter and that the shooting was random. A woman who answered the phone at the West Freeway Church of Christ told the AP that she could not answer questions and that she was being asked to direct inquiries to authorities. On a live stream of the service, the shooter can be seen getting up from a bench and speaking to someone in the back of the church before pulling out a gun and opening fire. Parishioners can then scream and crouch under pews or run while papers fly to the ground. Macara Trusty, spokeswoman for MedStar Mobile Healthcare, said two people were treated on site with minor injuries who were hiding while taking cover. Governor Greg Abbott asked the state to pray for the victims, their loved ones, and the White Settlement Ward, about eight miles west of Fort Worth. “Places of worship are meant to be sacred, and I am grateful to Church members who acted quickly to defeat the Sagittarius and prevent further deaths,” Abbott said in a statement tweeted. It’s not the first fatal shooting in a church in Texas. In November 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on the ward at a church in Sutherland Springs, killing more than two dozen believers before he committed suicide. And in 1999, a gunman killed seven people at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth before detonating an explosive device and killing himself.

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