A gunman walked in to a North Texas church and opened fire Sunday morning, killing one person before being fatally shot by parishioners, authorities said.
The “heroic actions” abruptly ended the shootout at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, about 10 miles west of Fort Worth, Police Chief J.P. Bevering said. He provided no information on the motive for the attack.
MedStar Mobile Healthcare spokeswoman Macara Trusty said one person died at the scene, and one died en-route to a hospital and was in critical condition. She said all the victims were male.
“It’s tragic and it’s a terrible situation, especially during the holiday season,” said Jeoff Williams, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety. “We have a couple of heroic parishioners who stopped short of just anything that you can even imagine, saved countless lives.”
Authorities provided few details on the shooting. A witness told CBS11 News the gunman walked up to a server during Communion with a shotgun and began firing until another church member shot the suspect.
“It was the scariest thing,” Isabel Arreola told the TV station. “You feel like your life is flashing before you.”
Mike Tinius, a church elder, told The New York Times that one of those killed was a security guard and friend who responded to the shooter. Tinius said that he didn’t know the gunman and that the shooting appeared to be random.
The security guard “was trying to do what he needed to do to protect the rest of us,” Tinius said. “It’s extremely upsetting to see anyone committing violence.”
Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement of condemnation for the “evil act of violence” at a place of worship.
“I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life,” Abbott said. “Cecilia and I ask all Texans to join us in praying for the White Settlement community and for all those affected by this horrible tragedy.”
White settlement is a city of about 17,000 people in Tarrant County. Mike Drivdahl, spokesman for the Fort Worth Fire Department, said his fire department was assisting city and county authorities in the investigation. Bomb-sniffing dogs were on the scene as a precaution, he said.
Drivdahl said he did not know how many people were attending the service when the shooting started.
“It’s a very tragic day whenever anyone in our community suffers,” he said. “It not only affects people who were here today, it affects first responders as well.”
The shooting took place hours after a knife-wielding attacker stabbed five people during a Hanukkah celebration in a rabbi’s home outside New York City. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the attack “an act of domestic terrorism” and directed the state police hate crimes task force to investigate.