Pastor is shot dead with his own gun after police suspect who hid overnight in Texas church wrestled weapon off him and opened fire
A pastor was shot dead with his own gun Sunday after a car chase suspect who hid from Texas police in a church overnight wrestled the weapon off him and opened fire.
The victim, who has not been named, was found dead at the Starrville Methodist Church near Winona. A second person was wounded in the shooting.
Sgt. Larry Christian of the Smith County Sheriff´s office said deputies were called to the church about a reported shooting around 9:20 a.m.
It believed the suspect – who is now in custody – had been involved in a car chase the previous night, CBS reports.
He fled on foot after the tire in his car blew before reportedly hiding in a bathroom stall in the church overnight to avoid capture.
Smith declined to say why authorities had been searching for the man. Authorities had been using dogs and drones to search for the man late Saturday in woods near Winona, KLTV reports.
An officer had been around the church area until 10.30 pm but the suspect was not found.
The armed pastor then opened the stall door the following morning, finding the suspect with the church’s red bank bag and the two are said to have become involved in an altercation.
The suspect is thought to have disarmed his victim before shooting and killing him.
He then stole the pastor’s car before being caught in Harrison County with a gunshot wound on his hand.
Sgt. Christian said there were no services going on when the shooting took place. He confirmed the suspect will be charged with capital murder.
The man appears to have taken shelter in the church out of convenience and there’s nothing to indicate the shooting was motivated by religious animus, the sheriff said.
‘I don´t think it´s going to be any kind of hate motivation or anything,’ Christian said.
Gov. Greg Abbott sent his condolences.
‘Our hearts are with the victims and the families of those killed or injured in this terrible tragedy,’ he said in a statement.
Representatives of Starrville Methodist could not be immediately reached for comment.
Numerous state troopers and sheriff’s deputies could be seen outside the church, which was cordoned off with yellow tape late Sunday morning.
Winona is a small town about 100 miles east of Dallas. Starrville Methodist was built in 1853, according to the Texas State Historical Association.