TEXAS – The senior pastor of the church where two people were fatally shot Dec. 29 praised the Texas bill that allows licensed handgun owners to carry weapons in churches and other places of worship.
Senate Bill 535 came into effect September 2019 and allows licensed handgun owners to legally carry their firearms in places of worship.
“We lost two great men today,” said West Freeway Church of Christ Pastor Britt Farmer during a televised press conference after the shooting Sunday. “It could have been a lot worse. I’m thankful that our government has allowed us the opportunity to protect ourselves.”"It could have been a lot worse. I'm thankful that our government has allowed us the opportunity to protect ourselves." -West Freeway Church of Christ Pastor Click To Tweet
Likewise, in a news conference after the shooting, Tarrant County, Texas, Sheriff Bill Waybourn praised the actions of the parishioners carrying guns.
“Evil walked boldly among us today but let me remind you, good people raised up and stopped it before it got worse.
And Texas Governor Greg Abbott also praised the fast-acting gun-toting parishioners.
“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.”
The shooting, which police said lasted six seconds, was caught on live stream video because the church posts its services online.
The two people killed were identified as church deacon Anton “Tony” Wallace and church security team member Richard White.
The gunman has been identified as Keith Thomas Kinnunen. F.B.I. special agent in charge of Dallas, Matthew J. DeSarno, described the gunman as a transient person with roots in the area. The agent said the motive isn’t known yet and is under investigation.
In the still shots below from the church’s live stream, you can see, in the first photo, the gunman on the right pulls out a rifle and a man to his left is reaching for his gun. In the second photo, a security guard shoots gunman. In the third photo, about four to five parishioners with guns approach and stand over the shooter who was shot and killed.
Jack Wilson, 71, a former reserve deputy for Hood County Sheriff’s Office was identified as the volunteer security guard at the church who shot and killed the gunman.
“I killed an evil and that’s how I’m coping with the situation,” he told U.S. media. “I don’t see myself as a hero. I see myself as doing what needed to be done to take out the evil threat.
“I only fired one round. It was the only shot I had, which was a headshot,” he added.
Wilson owns a gun range and trains the members of the church’s security team to be vigilant.
In most U.S. states citizens have the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Second Amendment, which was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791, states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." – U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment Click To Tweet
When Senate Bill 535 was being passed last year in Texas, co-sponsor of the bill Senator Donna Campbell said, “We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun-free zone. Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what.
“It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm,” she added.
Senate Bill 535 clarified the possession of firearms at churches, synagogues or other places of worship. The bill came into effect September 2019 and allows licensed handgun owners to carry their guns in places of worship.
Senate Bill 535 comes two years after a gunman killed 26 people and injured 20 more at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Nov. 5, 2017.
At about 11:30 a.m. a man dressed in all black got out of a vehicle and started firing a rifle outside the church. The gunman then entered the church and kept shooting. As he was leaving the church a local resident who was armed with a rifle confronted and chased the man, who eventually shot himself.
Updated Dec. 30, 2:13 p.m.
-Photos still shots of live feed from West Freeway Church of Christ Sunday church service
READ MORE: Moscow has warmest December since 1886
-Alberta Press staff
Like and follow us on Facebook
Keep up with Alberta’s top stories Follow us on TwitterFollow @AlbertaPress