Winona, TX — Sad news out of Texas this morning when news broke that the pastor of the Starrville Methodist Church was shot and killed by a fugitive who had been hiding in the restroom overnight. Two other parishioners were injured. Police reportedly have the suspect in custody.
Police reported that they had been pursuing the 21-year-old black male suspect the night before but he had eluded them by hiding in the empty church building. Then, this morning, before services began, the Pastor had come across the man in church restroom.
The pastor was armed at the time, but the man was allegedly able to take away the pastor’s gun and shoot him. The pastor died on the scene.
Local news reports:
Valley Central reports:
Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said in a news conference that the alleged shooter was being chased by police late Saturday night in a dark-colored Volkswagen Jetta. The pursuit began at FM 849 in Lindale. Smith did not say what started the chase, but that the license plates on his car were fake.
The police reported that the suspect crashed the Jetta and took off into the woods. A manhunt began, but they lost his trail. It’s clear now that the man hid out in the church building overnight.
After the shooting, the man fled the scene.
A second person at the scene was also injured before he fled the church. That victim is in surgery at a Tyler hospital. Harrison County deputies and DPS were able to capture him with help from ONSTAR after a separate high-speed chase on I-20 where speeds reached 120 miles per hour.
The suspect suffered a gunshot wound to the hand. It is unclear if that was from the shooting at the church or when he was captured.
This is such a tragedy for the tiny town of Winona. Two hours east of Dallas and just between Longview and Tyler, the town has a population of just 600 people.
As gun owners, we hope that every church shooting ends with a hero like Jack Wilson saving the day.
And from all reports, this pastor WAS a hero, carrying a gun to protect his parishioners.
But in this case, the violent criminal had the element of surprise and had no doubt planned what he would do if somebody entered his hideout.
Our prayers go out to the town of Winona, the family of the pastor, and everybody involved.