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Monday, February 6, 2023

Gunman Kills 2 at Texas Church Before Being Shot by Armed Security Volunteers

A gunman killed two people at a Texas church west of Fort Worth today before he was shot to death by members of the congregation’s security team.

The shooter was identified as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, of River Oaks, Texas. The FBI said he was not on a watch list. He had a previous arrest record including assault with a deadly weapon and theft. Authorities are exploring his motive and whether he targeted the victims at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. White Settlement Police Chief J.P. Bevering said there was no ongoing threat.

Livestreaming video from the well-attended church service showed the gunman in a dark, hooded coat sitting in the church, then standing along the far wall of pews and firing off two shotgun rounds, each fatally wounding a churchgoer, before being shot by a security volunteer.

The victims shot by the gunman were Anton Wallace, 64, of Fort Worth and Richard White, 67, of River Oaks.

Earlier this year, Texas law was changed to allow legal gun owners to carry their weapons in houses of worship; congregations that don’t want guns inside have to notify their members. Houses of worship are also allowed to hire armed security under the law.

“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,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who were impacted by the tragic shooting that took place at West Freeway Church of Christ this morning,” the city of White Settlement said in a Facebook statement. “Please join us as we stand in support as a community with the victims, their families, this congregation, and all of the law enforcement officers who responded.”

This story was updated 12/30 to identify the shooter and victims 

HSAC Outlines Urgent Steps to Secure Faith Community from ‘New Age’ of Domestic Terrorism

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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