Democrats and gun control activists have renewed their calls for gun control after a legally armed parishioner shot and killed a gunman who opened fire with a shotgun during a church service on Sunday. Two churchgoers died in the tragedy at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas.
“As elected officials, we must do more to protect Texans,” state Sen. Beverly Powell, D-Burleson, said in a statement. “Months ago, I, along with many of my colleagues in the House and Senate, called for a special session to address the rise of gun violence in Texas. We can and must respect the Second Amendment, but the time has come to address serious solutions to save the lives of innocent Texans.”
Shannon Watts, founder of the anti-gun group Moms Demand Action, put a finer point on it:
“Armed parishioners and ‘security teams’ in places of worship aren’t freedom,” she said on Twitter. “They’re the cost of allowing gun lobbyists to write our gun laws.”
Media reporting that one armed security guard killed by the White Settlement gunman.— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 29, 2019
Armed parishioners and “security teams” in places of worship aren’t freedom, they’re the cost of allowing gun lobbyists to write our gun laws.
White Settlement #txlege
Republicans and pro-gun groups, by contrast, have praised the actions of the parishioner who shot the gunman mere seconds after he opened fire.
“It is obvious that many more lives were saved by the quick action of a church member who was fortunately armed as a member of the church security team. Had it not been for his quick action and accurate shooting, this could have been much, much worse,” said Second Amendment Foundation Founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.
Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick also highlighted the necessity of having armed personnel on hand when a shooting begins.
“The immediate responder is the most important; the citizen responder,” Patrick said at a Sunday evening press conference. “Because even though the chief’s brave officers were here in less than a minute … by the time they got here, the shooting was over. And that always happens, that over 50 percent of shootings, our first responders, it’s usually over when they get there, no matter how hard they try.”
Officials have identified the parishioner who shot and killed the murderer as Jack Wilson, a former reserve sheriff’s deputy and firearms instructor. He was also the head of the church’s security team, according to CNN.
“The events at West Freeway Church of Christ put me in a position that I would hope no one would have to be in, but evil exists and I had to take out an active shooter in church,” Wilson said in a Facebook post. “I’m thankful to GOD that I have been blessed with the ability and desire to serve him in the role of head of security at the church. I am very sad in the loss of two dear friends and brothers in CHRIST, but evil does exist in this world and I and other members are not going to allow evil to succeed.”
In a comment below the post, Wilson indicates that he used a Sig Sauer P229 chambered in 357 SIG to take down the gunman.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told reporters at a news conference on Monday that Wilson had trained many of his fellow parishioners in safe and effective firearms handling.
“My understanding is, he was a reserve deputy and had significant training, had his own shooting range, had taught other people how to shoot, had taught many people in this church how to be prepared,” Paxton said. “He’s not just responsible for his actions, which ultimately saved the lives of maybe hundreds of people, but he’s also responsible for training hundreds in that church.”
The widely circulated video of the incident shows congregants participating in a communion service while the perpetrator stands in the back corner of the sanctuary. He appears to be wearing all black clothing, and witnesses say he was wearing a disguise, including a fake beard.
He approaches a parishioner standing behind him and speaks to him for a moment before pulling a shotgun from his clothing. Another man notices the shotgun, stands up, and reaches for something in his waistband. The gunman sees the man stand and shoots him point-blank before turning the shotgun on another parishioner and shooting him as well.
Meanwhile, a third parishioner, Mr. Wilson, pulls out a handgun and fires one shot from approximately 15 yards away, and the perpetrator immediately falls to the ground.
Congregants can be seen hiding underneath pews and running for the exit, and cries and screaming can be heard while several people attempt to help the victims.
The parishioner who fired the shot wasn’t the only armed person in the sanctuary that day. After the perpetrator falls to the ground, at least five additional men approach the murderer with handguns drawn.
The two victims have been identified as 64-year-old Anton Wallace, a church deacon from Fort Worth, and 67-year-old Richard White, of River Oaks.