WHITE SETTLEMENT — The man who shot and killed two people inside a west Fort Worth church on Sunday had been at the church before and received help. Sunday he showed up in disguise and concealing a shotgun that he turned on members of the congregation.
The Texas Department of Public Safety on Monday identified the attacker as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43. His motive is under investigation.
Speaking outside the church Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said authorities "can't prevent mental illness from occurring, and we can't prevent every crazy person from pulling a gun. But we can be prepared like this church was."
More than 240 people were attending services Sunday morning at West Freeway Church of Christ. Communion was being served when Kinnunen, wearing a fake beard, a wig, a hat and a long coat, rose up and pulled the shotgun firing it once.
Killed were Richard White, 67, a member of the church's security team, and church Deacon Anton “Tony” Wallace, 64, a former Mineral Wells resident who attended Mineral Wells High School.
Jack Wilson, a 71-year-old former reserve sheriff's deputy, firearms instructor and head of the church's security team, ended the chaos in six seconds. He pulled his gun, took aim and squeezed off one shot at a distance of about 50 feet that struck and killed Kinnunen.
"I didn't have a clear window," said Wilson, referring to church members who "were jumping, going chaotic."
"They were standing up,” said Wilson, who lives in Granbury and is running for the Hood County precinct 3 county commissioner seat. “I had to wait about half a second, or a second, to get my shot. I fired one round. The subject went down. The only clear shot I had was his head because I still had people in the pews that were not all the way down as low as they could. That was my one shot."
Wilson described the attacker's gun as a short-barreled 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip. Shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches long are restricted under federal law and can be legally owned in Texas only if they are registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Church officials held a closed meeting and prayer vigil just for church members Monday evening. Farmer told the crowd that he had encountered Kinnunen in the past.
Britt Farmer, senior minister of the church said he had spoke with Kinnunen in the past and offered him food.
"I had seen him. I had visited with him. I had given him food," Farmer said.
Family of a former local resident who attended Mineral Wells High School are grieving his death Sunday morning at the hands of a shooter inside a west Fort Worth church.
After the shooting, Texas officials hailed the state's gun laws, including a measure enacted this year that affirmed the right of licensed handgun holders to carry a weapon in places of worship, unless the facility bans them.
That law was passed in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history, which was also at a church. In the 2017 massacre at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, a man who opened fire on a Sunday morning congregation killed more than two dozen people. He later killed himself.
President Donald Trump also tweeted his appreciation for state's gun legislation Monday night, saying, "Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry arms!"
Armed congregants quickly stopped a crazed church shooter in Texas. If it were not for the fact that there were people inside of the church that were both armed, and highly proficient in using their weapon, the end result would have been catastrophic. A big THANK YOU to them!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
Paxton said Monday that the shooter appeared to be "more of a loner." "I don't think he had a lot of connections to very many people," he said.
Investigators searched Kinnunen's home in nearby River Oaks, a small city where police said his department's only contact with the gunman was a couple of traffic citations. But Kinnunen appeared to have more serious brushes in other jurisdictions. He was arrested in 2009 on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Fort Worth and in 2013 for theft, according to Tarrant County court records.
He was arrested in 2016 in New Jersey after police found him with 12-gauge shotgun and rounds wrapped in plastic in the area of an oil refinery, according to the Herald News Tribune in East Brunswick. It was not immediately clear how those charges were resolved.
In a 2009 affidavit requesting a court-appointed attorney, Kinnunen listed having a wife and said he was living with four children, according to court records. He told the court he was self-employed in landscaping and irrigation work.
Kinnunen's extensive criminal record also included assault charges in Oklahoma and Arizona.
Court records from Grady County, Oklahoma, obtained by Dallas television station KXAS, show that Kinnunen's ex-wife sought a protective order in 2012 in which Cindy Glasgow-Voegel described her husband as a "violent, paranoid person with a long line of assault and batteries with and without firearms. He is a religious fanatic, says he's battling a demon."
Wilson said the church started the security team about 18 months ago after moving to a new building and becoming concerned about crime in the area. Wilson has been a firearms instructor since 1995, spent six years in the Army National Guard and was a Hood County reserve deputy. He said some of the security team members he trained were at first afraid to touch a gun.
"I don't feel like I killed a human, I killed an evil," Wilson said. "That's how I'm coping with the situation."