Gunman in Texas church had trained worshippers to shoot: state prosecutor

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Gunman in Texas church had trained worshippers to shoot: state prosecutor


(Reuters) – The gunman who opened fire in a Texas church on Sunday, killing two before dying from gunshot wounds, owned a shooting range and had taught its parishioners how to shoot, the Texas Attorney General said on Monday.

A livestream video caught the terrifying moment when the man, whom authorities have not identified by name, stood next the pews wearing a dark hood and started firing a long gun before the church’s volunteer security team members shot him.

“My understanding is he was a reserve deputy and had significant training, his own shooting range and taught other people how to shoot, and taught many people in this church how to be prepared,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told reporters on Monday.

The incident took place in White Settlement, a suburb northwest of Fort Worth, at the West Freeway Church of Christ.

Local TV station NBC DFW, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, identified the gunman as Keith Kinnunen, a 43-year-old resident of River Oaks, Texas, who had a criminal record including charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2009. A Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman did not immediately confirm that.

The Fort Worth Fire Department said three people, including the suspected shooter, were transported from the scene in critical condition on Sunday. Two, including the suspect, died en route to the hospital, said Macara Trusty, a spokeswoman for local emergency services provider MedStar, said in a phone interview. The third later died of their wounds, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Two more people sustained minor injuries as they ducked for cover inside the church, Trusty said.

SIX SECONDS

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick praised the church’s volunteer security guards for taking down the shooter.

“Because of the quick action of these two men, this evil event was over in six seconds,” Patrick said in a statement on Sunday.

One of the two guards said in a Facebook post that he was acting against evil. “The events at West Freeway Church of Christ put me in a position that I would hope no one would have to be in, but evil exists and I had to take out an active shooter in church,” he said.

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Patrick said a new state law allowing concealed carry in places of worship enabled the parishioners to stop the gunman. The law, which took effect in September, was passed in the wake of a shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in 2017 that left 26 dead.

Paxton praised the law and encouraged other states to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons for defense in cases of active shooters. Gun control advocates and some religious leaders have criticized such laws, arguing that weapons have no place in sacred houses of worship.

“I do hope that through this tragedy, more churches will prepare the way this church did, not just in Texas but really across the nation,” Paxton said. “This is the model for the future.”

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Bill Tarrant and Richard Chang



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