A lone gunman opened fire during Sunday morning services, at the West Freeway Church of Christ in the small Texas town of White Settlement, before being engaged and killed by two members of the Church’s volunteer security team.
“Today evil walked boldly among us,” Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said. “But let me remind you, good people raised up and stopped it before it got worse.”
According to City Police Chief J.P. Bevering, the suspect, who has yet to be identified, entered the church and sat down in the sanctuary for a bit before the shooting began. He began the attack by shooting one man, then turning his shotgun on a second. Two armed members of the Church’s volunteer security team then drew their weapons and opened fire on the suspect. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick credited the volunteers for their bravery and immediate action, telling the press that the entire incident was over in “six seconds” thanks to their quick response. He also mentioned that it was only recently that Texas laws changed to allow licensed parishioners to carry firearms into houses of worship.
“Two of the parishioners who are volunteers on the security force drew their weapons and took out the killer immediately, saving untold number of lives,” he said.
One victim was pronounced dead at the scene, while the shooter and a second victim were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. The shooter died on the way to the hospital and the second victim was pronounced dead hours later.
Footage recorded inside the church at the time of the shooting shows the shooter, wearing black or dark clothing, taking a seat near the rear of the church. He then stands, approaches someone in the back corner of the church and appears to speak to them. The person he speaks to seems to gesture toward the center of the church, and then the suspect raises the shotgun and opens fire, shooting the man and then firing again to shoot a second.
At that point, a man on the left side of the screen produces a pistol and opens fire. It looks as though he fires three rounds from the pistol and the suspect falls to the ground immediately. Almost instantaneously, at least five other parishioners then produced handguns as they approached the suspect on the floor.
The two volunteers that engaged the shooter were not hired employees of the church, Regional Director of Texas Department of Public Safety Jeoff Williams told reporters Sunday night.
“I would like to point out that we have a couple of heroic parishioners. Our hearts are going out to them and their families as well,” Williams said. “The citizens who were inside that church undoubtedly saved 242 other parishioners.”