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Fort Worth-area church shooter had lengthy criminal record, officials say


WHITE SETTLEMENT, Texas – Texas officials have identified the gunman who they say killed two people at a White Settlement church as 43-year-old Keith Thomas Kinnunen.

Kinnunen had a criminal record in Tarrant County including charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2009.

Officials say Kinnunen opened fire at the West Freeway Church of Christ Sunday, killing two people, before being killed by church security.

Texas Rangers and other law enforcement officers searched Kinnunen’s home Sunday, soon after the shooting.

Congregants returned fire and fatally shot the gunman who killed two people in a church near Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday, police said.

The death of the second person was confirmed Sunday evening by FBI spokesman Jason Wandel. He also said the two congregants who opened fire on the suspect were part of a security team at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement.

The assailant fired at least once before the “heroic actions” of the congregants cut his assault short, White Settlement Police Department Chief J.P. Bevering said during a news conference Sunday afternoon.

A shooter at a church in White Settlement, Texas, was taken down by parishioners with guns seconds after he began firing Sunday. (West Freeway Church of Christ/Obtained by KTVT)
A shooter at a church in White Settlement, Texas, was taken down by parishioners with guns seconds after he began firing Sunday. (West Freeway Church of Christ/Obtained by KTVT) (KPRC)

“Unfortunately, this country has seen so many of these that we’ve actually gotten used to it at this point. And it’s tragic and it’s a terrible situation, especially during the holiday season,” Jeoff Williams, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at the news conference. “I would like to point out that we have a couple of heroic parishioners who stopped short of just anything that you can even imagine, saved countless lives, and our hearts are going out to them and their families as well.”

Authorities have released scant details about the victims, the shooter and what led to the attack.

An elder at the church told the New York Times that one of those killed was a security guard who responded to the shooter, calling him a dear friend.

“He was trying to do what he needed to do to protect the rest of us,” said the elder, Mike Tinius.

“It’s extremely upsetting to see anyone committing violence,” he said.

Tinius said he didn’t know the gunman and that the shooting appeared to be random.

A woman who answered the phone at the West Freeway Church of Christ told the AP she could not answer any questions and that she was told to direct inquiries to authorities.

In a live stream of the church service, the gunman can be seen getting up from a pew and talking to someone at the back of the church before pulling out a gun and opening fire. Parishioners can then be heard screaming and seen ducking under pews or running as papers fly to the floor.

More than 100 people, including children, can be seen sitting in the pews from the live stream’s viewpoint.

Two people with minor injuries sustained while ducking for cover were treated at the scene, MedStar Mobile Healthcare spokeswoman Macara Trusty said.

Gov. Greg Abbott asked the state to pray for the victims, their loved ones and the community of White Settlement, about 8 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,” Abbott said in a tweeted statement.

It is not the first deadly shooting to take place at a church in Texas. In November 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on the congregation at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing more than two dozen worshippers, before taking his own life.