Texas church shooting: Two fatally shot before gunman killed by churchgoer

A still from a livestream of the service shows the gunman, in black, seconds after producing a gun, before opening fire
A still from a livestream shows the gunman, in black, producing a gun, before opening fire

A gunman opened fire in a church in Texas, fatally shooting two parishioners before being killed by an armed member of the congregation.

The gunman stood up from a pew at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth, pulled out a shotgun and begun firing.

Police said they were still trying to determine the attacker’s motives.

White Settlement Police Chief JP Bevering praised “the heroic actions” of those who confronted the attacker.

The shooting took place at about 11:50 (17:50 GMT), during the morning service. The service was being live-streamed on social media.

Video footage showed the gunman stand up from a pew and speak to a man nearby, who gestured at another parishioner. The gunman then fired at the man he gestured toward.

The gunman fired again, at the man he had spoken to, before a member of the congregation acting as a security guard returned fire with a handgun, immediately felling the attacker. Several other parishioners also produced handguns and trained them on the attacker. It was not clear from the video footage whether any of the other armed parishioners fired shots.

The two churchgoers who were shot died later in hospital, police said.

Police cars outside West Freeway Church of Christ where a shooting took place at the morning service on December 29, 2019 in White Settlement, TexasThe shooting happened during the morning service at West Freeway Church of Christ

Members of the congregation in the nearly full church were seen on the livestream ducking down behind pews as screaming filled the room.

Jack Cummings, a minister at the church, told the New York Times that the gunman had been “acting suspiciously” and drew the attention of the church’s security team.

The security team is made up of volunteers from the church’s membership who are licensed to carry firearms. “They saved a lot of lives today because this thing would have been a massacre otherwise,” Mr Cummings said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the shooting “an evil act of violence”.

“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,” he said in a statement.

Witness Isabel Arreola told local broadcaster CBS DFW: “It was the most scariest thing. You feel like your life is flashing before you. I was so worried about my little one.”

Dannetta Maldonado (left) helps Diana Richardson as she is pushed by her husband John Richardson after a shooting took place at West Freeway Church of Christ on December 29, 2019Shocked worshippers were evacuated from the church

In September, a new law came into effect in Texas that allowed licensed handgun owners to carry weapons in places of worship.

The state has seen a number of deadly shootings this year. In August, 22 people died and 24 were wounded at a Walmart store in El Paso. The same month a gunman killed seven and wounded 20 at Odessa-Midland.

In 2017, 26 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, during a Sunday service.

SOURCE: BBC

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