Texas church shooting: 2 worshipers dead; shooter killed by armed parishioners

WHITE SETTLEMENT, Texas — A gunman killed two parishioners Sunday at a Texas church before he was shot and killed by another congregant, authorities said.

The shooting Sunday at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement claimed the lives of Richard White, 67 and Anton “Tony” Wallace, 64, according to The Associated Press. The gunman, identified Monday by the Texas Department of Public Safety as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, was shot and killed by Jack Wilson, a 71-year-old firearms instructor and former reserve sheriff’s deputy.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 8:35 p.m. EST Dec. 30: President Donald Trump praised Texans on Monday for passing laws allowing them to carry firearms after an armed parishioner stopped a man who had opened fire on congregants at West Freeway Church of Christ.

“Our prayers are with the families of the victims and the congregation of yesterday’s church attack,” Trump wrote. “It was over in 6 seconds thanks to the brave parishioners who acted to protect 242 fellow worshipers. Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry arms!”

Jack Wilson, a 71-year-old firearms instructor, told The Associated Press he fired a single shot Sunday after Keith Thomas Kinnunen started shooting at congregants at the church.

“The only clear shot I had was his head because I still had people in the pews that were not all the way down as low as they could,” Wilson told the AP. "That was my one shot.”

The motive behind Sunday's shooting remained unclear Monday.

Update 12:35 p.m. EST Dec. 30: The victims in Sunday’s church shooting have been identified by fellow church members as Tony Wallace and Richard Wright, KTVT reported Monday.

#NEW: A heartbroken community has identified the two victims who died after a gunman opened fire inside a church in White Settlement as Tony Wallace and Richard White.

Posted by CBS DFW on Monday, December 30, 2019

The suspect has been identified by two law enforcement officials as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, of River Oaks, KXAS reported. Kinnunen had a previous criminal record in Texas and New Jersey, according to KXAS.

Head of church security Jack Wilson, who is being praised as a hero for taking quick action to stop the gunman, posted about the experience on Facebook.

Jack Wilson, who is running for Hood County commissioner, wrote on Facebook that he "had to take out" the suspect who shot two men during communion at West Freeway Church of Christ on Sunday.

Posted by CBS DFW on Monday, December 30, 2019

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton commended the church members for their actions, and said the church served as a “model for the future” in handling such security incidents, according to a statement he provided to KTVT.

Update 10:35 p.m. EST Dec. 29: Two parishioners, who were part of the church’s security team, drew their weapons and fired on a gunman who opened fire inside a Texas church.

“This team responded quickly and within six seconds, the shooting was over. Two of the parishioners who were volunteers of the security force drew their weapons and took out the killer immediately, saving untold number of lives,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at a Sunday news conference, The Associated Press reported.

There were more than 240 worshipers at the church at the time of the shooting.

“We lost two great men today, but it could have been a lot worse," Britt Farmer, senior minister of the church, told The Associated Press.

Update 7:44 p.m. EST Dec. 29: Two members of the church as well as the gunman are dead.

One of the parishioners was in critical condition at the hospital but later died, KDFW reported.

The victims have not yet been identified.

Update 3:48 p.m. EST Dec. 29: In the livestream video from Sunday morning service, a man believed to be the shooter stands up when the congregation greets each other, shakes hands and leaves the building, KXAS reported.

The man re-entered the church and sat down, the television station reported. After standing up, the man pulls out a firearm and begins shooting, KXAS reported.

According to the video, another man pulls out a handgun and shoots the suspect, the television station reported.

Church leaders then ask the congregation to sit down while security officials tend to the wounded,

“Everything is under control. Our security team did exactly what they needed to do, but we do have one of our members that’s injured, so please,” someone is heard saying on the video. “We have a gentleman that came in armed to do harm, and the police are on their way.”

Update 2:56 p.m. EST Dec. 29: One of the men killed at the West Freeway Church of Christ was the shooter, MedStar officials told WFAA.

MedStar officials told KTVT earlier Sunday that the third victim, who was in critical condition, died en route to the hospital but was revived. He is undergoing surgery at an area hospital, the television station reported. Two other people were injured while trying to take cover, but have been treated and released, KTVT reported.

Update 2:07 p.m. EST Dec. 29: “It’s a very tragic day,” Fort Worth Fire Department spokesman Mike Drivdahl told reporters. “Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families that were affected by this incident.”

Update 1:40 p.m. EST Dec. 29: According to KTVT a witness said the gunman walked up to a server during communion and opened fire. According to the witness, another church member shot the suspect.

“It was the most scariest thing. You feel like your life is flashing before you. I was so worried about my little one,” Isabel Arreola told the television station.

Update 1:13 p.m. EST Dec. 29: The church was live-streaming its service at the time of the attack, according to WFAA. Parishioners at the mostly full church appeared to duck behind pews and covered their heads, according to the livestream.

The suspected shooter was among the people taken to the hospital, authorities said.

Original report: Fort Worth Fire Department spokesman, Mike Drivdahl, said the agency sent out an “active threat” assignment about 11:30 a.m. local time, the newspaper reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.