Livestream video of a shooting at a White Settlement church shows a man quickly firing a shot at a gunman who had opened fire during the service.
The shooting appeared to happen during communion. One man was standing toward the back of the sanctuary holding a tray when the shooter got up from a nearby pew, walked toward the man and appeared to say something to him.
The gunman sat back down at a pew as the man he spoke to moved to another wall. The gunman then got up, appeared to have said something to the man again. Then, the gunman backed up, pulled out a long gun and fired a shot toward the man who was holding the tray. In a split second, another man who was standing nearby reached into his jacket, but was also shot by the gunman.
A third man who was also in the back of the auditorium pulled a handgun on the gunman and fired one shot. The gunman fell and at least three or four more people armed with handguns walked toward him.
Three people were killed in the shooting, including the gunman.
None of them have been publicly identified by authorities, who said during an evening press conference that family members were still being notified.
Jeff Williams, an investigator with the Department of Public Safety, said two security volunteers fired upon the gunman and the shooting was over within six seconds.
Those volunteers are also members of the church, he said. He said the men are heroes who saved 242 other church-goers.
“The citizens in this community have a lot to be proud of,” he said.
A Texas law went into effect in September 2017 that allows churches to hire armed volunteer guards.
Attorney General Ken Paxton clarified months later that the law also allows licensed handgun owners to bring their firearms to church as long as the church approved it.
The clarification was released in an opinion by Paxton after a November 2017 shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Twenty-six people were fatally shot and another 20 were wounded.
Then, on Sept. 1, gun owners became legally allowed to carry handguns into places of worship and were only prohibited from doing so if the religious organization gives notice that it’s restricted.
Senior Minister Britt Farmer, who was in the church when the shooting happened, said “I’m thankful the government has allowed us to protect ourselves ... to have something like this happen, it destroys my heart.”
Police are still attempting to figure out what the gunman’s motive was.