A potential mass slaying was preventing this Sunday when two volunteer security guards responded to a gunman who opened fire during a service at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas.
The perpetrator was shot and killed within six seconds of shooting his gun.
Two others were killed, including one of the guards, among a congregation of nearly 250 people.
“He was trying to do what he needed to do to protect the rest of us,” said Mike Tinius, a witness. “It’s extremely upsetting to see anyone committing violence.”
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday night praised a recently enacted gun law allowing licensed firearms in places of worship. “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,” said Patrick.
Earlier this year, presidential hopeful Joe Biden described the Texas law as “irrational.”
FBI investigators confirmed the perpetrator had been arrested several times in the past. According to witnesses, the gunman entered the church wearing a fake beard and wig, making several people ‘uncomfortable.’ Authorities are still searching for a motive.
“I should have listened to my gut,” said Isabel Arreola, who shared a pew with the suspect. “While he was there, I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t pray. There was just something not right about him. But at the same time, I thought that maybe I was being too hard.”
In a statement issued Sunday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott asked the state to pray for the victims, families, and town of White Settlement, which is located just a few miles west of Fort Worth.
“Places of worship are meant to be sacred, and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life,” said Abbott. “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.”