30 December, 2019
By SJA Jafri + BBC
The gunman stood up from a pew at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth, pulled out a shotgun and begun firing.
Police said they were still trying to determine the attacker’s motives.
White Settlement Police Chief JP Bevering praised “the heroic actions” of those who confronted the attacker.
The shooting took place at about 11:50 (17:50 GMT), during the morning service. The service was being live-streamed on social media.
The gunman fired again, at the man he had spoken to, before a member of the congregation acting as a security guard returned fire with a handgun, immediately felling the attacker. Several other parishioners also produced handguns and trained them on the attacker. It was not clear from the video footage whether any of the other armed parishioners fired shots.
The two churchgoers who were shot died later in hospital, police said.
Members of the congregation in the nearly full church were seen on the livestream ducking down behind pews as screaming filled the room.
The security team is made up of volunteers from the church’s memberships who are licensed to carry firearms. “They saved a lot of lives today because this thing would have been a massacre otherwise,” Cummings said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the shooting “an evil act of violence”.
“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,” he said in a statement.
In September, a new law came into effect in Texas that allowed licensed handgun owners to carry weapons in places of worship.
The state has seen a number of deadly shootings this year. In August, 22 people died and 24 were wounded at a Walmart store in El Paso. The same month a gunman killed seven and wounded 20 at Odessa-Midland.
In 2017, 26 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, during a Sunday service.