Safety concerns rise at houses of worship after recent attacks

HOUSTON – The live stream of Sunday service at West Freeway Church of Christ chronicled the moment hate struck, as a man identified as Keith Kinnunen.

Kinnunen shot and killed two parishioners. [PREVIOUS STORY LINK HERE]

The video also detailed the moment the church’s armed security team went to work: within six seconds Kinnunen was dead.

“I don’t feel like I killed a human. I killed an evil,” said Jack Wilson, head of security at West Freeway Church of Christ.

Wilson fatally shot Kinnunen in the head. Wilson said he runs a shooting range and teaches others how to arm themselves. He said he often explains to his students why legal carry is important.

“You carry it anywhere and everywhere you legally can cause you never know when you’re going to have to use it,” Wilson said.

At a press conference Sunday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick praised the security team’s response amid the heartache.

“The heroism today is unparalleled,” Patrick said.

Patrick also highlighted two new state laws: one makes it easier for churches to establish volunteer security teams.

“This is gonna be something that is studied and watched by law enforcement and private citizens and churches, or anyone else who trains up their own security to see how lives can be saved,” Patrick continued.

A new law, which took effect Sept. 1, made concealed carry legal in places of worship. The new law, S.B. 535, leaves allowing the right to carry up to the place of worship.

Both laws were passed after over two dozen were killed at a church in Sutherland Springs in November of 2017.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R, Texas 7th district, said both laws made a difference in yesterday’s shooting.

“Fortunately they had a plan,” Sen. Bettencourt said, in reference to the church’s security team.

“We have to recognize the fact that churches, synagogues, temples, mosques -- there all targets now. So you have to let people defend themselves if they wish to,” Bettencourt continued.

Sen. Borris Miles was one of a few Democrats to support the legislation.

“This is a tragic situation,” Miles said.

Like Bettancourt, Miles said Sunday’s outcome likely would have been different had S.B. 535 not been passed into law. Miles added more needed to be done at the federal level to strengthen the nation’s gun laws.

“Until we can to a society, a civilized society where we don’t have to worry about carrying a gun, I want to protect my family. I want to protect my community. I want to protect the parishioners of my church," Miles said.