Home Christian News Wilson Thanks Training for Ability to Stop Church Shooter

Wilson Thanks Training for Ability to Stop Church Shooter

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At West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, parishioners are mourning the deaths of two beloved members at the hands of a Texas church shooter and praising the quick actions of the armed security team. During communion on Sunday, a disguised gunman shot and killed Anton “Tony” Wallace, 64, and Richard White, 67, before being shot and killed by Jack Wilson, the church’s head of security.

The incident, captured on livestream footage, was over within seconds thanks to Wilson, who’s being called a hero. But the 71-year-old firearms instructor says he merely did what he was trained to do—take out someone with “evil intent”—and is thankful he had the right skills.

Texas Church Shooter Had Sought Help from the Church

The gunman, identified as 43-year-old drifter Keith Kinnunen, had a criminal record and histories of mental illness and drug abuse. An ex-wife who’d once filed for a protective order called Kinnunen a religious fanatic who was “battling a demon.” Authorities are still investigating the motive—and whether the gunman’s history should have barred him from possessing a weapon.

Britt Farmer, pastor of the Fort Worth-area church, says Kinnunen had requested and received assistance previously. “We’ve helped him on several occasions with food,” says Farmer, but “he gets mad when we won’t give him cash.”

Drifters often stop by the church, which is located near a major highway. West Freeway “formed the security team just in case something like this [shooting] was to happen,” Wilson says. “People have to realize there are no safe havens—even church.”

Kinnunen’s appearance and actions immediately aroused suspicion, Wilson says, and volunteers’ security training paid off. With just one shot, Wilson took down the gunman and prevented even higher casualties.

Afterward, President Trump tweeted gratitude for the armed citizens who took quick action, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton praised the church’s preparedness. Other officials, however, emphasized that guns need to be inaccessible to people intent on harm.

Amid the Mourning, Forgiveness Emerges

At a vigil Monday, Pastor Farmer praised the two victims, noting that Wallace was his best friend. “Preachers don’t have many best friends,” he said. “If you’ve never been a preacher, you don’t understand that. But he was my best friend, and he died saving lives.”

The pastor was grateful “the government has allowed us an opportunity to protect ourselves,” but said, “It destroys my heart [that] there is evil in this world.” He added, “I love this community. I love this church. I love this state. I love our country, and I love our freedoms. And I’m not going to let evil take that away.”

When her father was shot, Tiffany Wallace was with her young daughter. Initially, she assumed the gunman was a visitor, “probably looking for a new church home.” Wallace was able to hold her injured father and express her love before he later died at a hospital. Though it’s difficult, she says she’s already forgiven the Texas church shooter. “It’s the hardest thing to say because it’s like, somebody killed your dad, but I forgive him. I’ll never forgive what he did, but I forgive him.”

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Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 28 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her family.