Tragedy stuck a small east Texas church Sunday when the church’s pastor was shot to death with his own gun after confronting an intruder.
According to Fox News, the suspect was identifed as Mytrez Deunte Woolen, 21. A report from the Tyer, Texas, Telegraph identified the victim as Starrville Methodist Church Pastor Mark Allen McWilliams.
Woolen had earlier been wanted in connection with a Saturday night shooting in nearby Tyler, said Lt. Jay Webb of the Harrison County sheriff’s office said, according to KXAS.
The station reported that Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said that on Saturday night, police had been chasing a suspect who brandished a shotgun through the sunroof of the vehicle he was driving when the car crashed near the church, located near Winona, about 100 miles east of Dallas.
Authorities spent two hours looking for the man they were chasing, Smith told reporters.
When the church’s pastor opened the door to the church’s bathroom on Sunday, a man was there holding a bank bag that belonged to the church.
The pastor pulled out his gun and told the man to surrender, according to KXAS. Instead, the man lunged at the pastor, secured the weapon and shot McWilliams with it. The pastor was killed. One person suffered a gunshot wound and another sustained injuries in a fall, KXAS reported.
I’m in Winona, Texas where the pastor of Starrville Methodist was shot and killed with his own gun. AP reports the suspect was in a chase, and hid in this church’s bathroom. The pastor pulled out his gun, but was disarmed and shot. Smith County Sheriff on scene. @SpectrumNews1TX pic.twitter.com/4ERiKzr1DS
— Ashley Claster (@AshleyClaster) January 3, 2021
— CBS2 News (@CBS2Boise) January 3, 2021
Webb said Woolen, who used the pastor’s vehicle to escape, was arrested after a chase that reached speeds of 120 mph.
A weapon was recovered, Webb said.
Woolen suffered a gunshot wound to the hand. It was not clear how he was shot, according to KXAS.
Smith emphasized that the shooting was not related to the church’s ministry.
“As far as I’m concerned this is not a church-related or religion-related offense,” Smith said, according to KXAS. “This was an opportunity that was convenient for the guy to come out of the woods … and apparently he was still there when they came to the church this morning.”
My heart goes out to those hurt this morning at the Starrville Methodist Church. All thoughts and prayers and love. May those injured be healed and the soul of your Pastor be reposed. ??
— The bee girl (@JessicaAStephe1) January 3, 2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended his condolences to those impacted by the crime.
“Our hearts are with the victims and the families of those killed or injured in this terrible tragedy,” Abbott said in a written statement. “I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who apprehended the suspect, and I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for those affected by this horrific shooting.”
Abbott said the state will “ensure that justice is served and that the Starrville community has the resources it needs during this time.”
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