A pastor in a small Texas town was killed with his own gun Sunday morning after being shot by a man who hid in the church overnight to escape a police manhunt, local authorities said.
The shooting took place at Starrville Methodist Church in Winona, a small town of about 600 people located roughly 100 miles east of Dallas.
Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said the male suspect and the pastor clashed Sunday morning after the pastor entered the church, where the suspect hid overnight from police, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The pastor drew a gun when he saw the man, but the suspect seized the weapon during a scuffle, fatally shot the pastor and injured one other person in the church before fleeing the scene in the pastor’s car, Smith said.
The suspect was picked up by police in nearby Harrison County and taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound, according to the local CBS affiliate CBS19, but it’s not clear when the suspect was shot or by whom.
The other victim was being treated in a hospital for their gunshot wound, and one other person on the scene was also admitted after they fell during the shooting, the station reported.
The names of the suspect, pastor and others involved have not been released, and there is no evidence to suggest the church was singled out or that anti-religious motivations played a role in the shooting.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the suspect had been pursued by police the previous night in connection with a crime that Smith did not disclose. He said the department would pursue a capital murder charge against the suspect. “The State of Texas is working closely with first responders and local officials to ensure that justice is served and that the Starrville community has the resources it needs during this time,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a Sunday statement. Harrison County Sheriff’s Office described the suspect to CBS19 as a 21-year-old Black man.
Pastor fatally shot, 1 other person wounded at East Texas Methodist church (Dallas Morning News)
Suspect in custody after shooting at Starrville Methodist church leaves pastor dead (CBS19)