A slow-motion video of the shooting at a Texas church on Sunday shows how many members of the congregation drew their firearms to stop the gunman.
The footage, which came from a livestream of the service in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth, has been making the rounds on social media. The shooter can be seen opening fire, but within seconds, seven different churchgoers draw their weapons — and one man takes him down.
Some anon broke down the footage from the shooting at the Texas church earlier on and no less than seven of the congregation members happened to be armed including one elderly lady (no. 5).
Ain't no messing around down that way by the looks of things.
— Rathdranalon (@Daicheal) December 30, 2019
Jack Wilson, the head of the security detail, fired a single shot that killed the gunman, who has been identified by authorities as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, of River Oaks.
The victims of the shooting, identified as Anton Wallace, 64, of Fort Worth and Richard White, 67, of River Oaks, were also members of the civilian security force at West Freeway Church of Christ, the state’s attorney general said.
Wallace was serving communion at the church in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement and was approached twice by the suspect in the moments before the gunfire rang out.
“When he sat back down the second time, shortly after that, he stood up, turned, and produced a shotgun,” Wilson told NBC News.
Wilson and White began “drawing our weapons. Richard did get his gun out of the holster. He was, I think, able to get a shot off, but it ended up going into the wall. The shooter had turned and shot him and then shot Tony and then started to turn to go toward the front of the auditorium,” Wilson told NBC.
“I fired one round. The subject went down.”
Kinnunen was not a regular at the church and raised suspicion when he walked in wearing the wig and fake beard that he kept adjusting, Wilson said.
The reason for Kinnunen’s actions are unclear. State Attorney General Ken Paxton told a news conference that the gunman may have been mentally ill.
The church’s senior minister, Britt Farmer, on Sunday thanked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and law enforcement for their quick responses to the shooting and told reporters, “I’m thankful our government has allowed us the opportunity to protect ourselves.”
West Freeway Church of Christ Senior Minister Britt Farmer: "I’m thankful our government has allowed us the opportunity to protect ourselves" pic.twitter.com/5fLSnSjQzg
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) December 30, 2019
Trump praises Jack Wilson and other “armed heroes” of the White Settlement shooting
The attack and response by armed civilians have further inflamed a nationwide debate over gun violence ahead of the 2020 presidential campaign.
President Donald Trump joined Texas officials in praising the armed congregants for saving lives.
“Our prayers are with the families of the victims and the congregation of yesterday’s church attack,” Trump said on Twitter.
“It was over in 6 seconds thanks to the brave parishioners who acted to protect 242 fellow worshippers. Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry arms!”
On the other hand, Beto O’Rourke, a failed Democratic candidate for Senate and the presidency who has advocated national gun confiscation, said in a tweet that the shooting shows “what we are doing in Texas, what we are dong in this country, when it comes to guns is not working.”
Local TV station NBC DFW, citing unidentified law enforcement sources, said Kinnunen had a criminal record that included charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2009.
Online court records show Kinnunen pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault and battery and third-degree arson in a Grady County, Oklahoma court on August 15, 2013. The convictions mean he could not have legally possessed a firearm.
A Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman declined to comment.
Texas allows concealed carry in places of worship under a law that took effect in September. It was passed following a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017 that killed 26 people.
Paxton encouraged other states to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons for defense in case of active shooters.
Wilson had previously trained other churchgoers to use firearms, and had his own shooting range, Paxton said.
(Reuters contributed to this report.)
- Churchgoers pull their guns during a shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, on Dec. 29, 2019.: Screen grab