This June 16, 2015, photo provided by the River Oaks Police Department, in Texas, shows Keith Thomas Kinnunen. Authorities say that Kinnunen is the man who carried out an attack Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. (River Oaks Police Department via AP)

White Settlement, Texas (AP) – The man who opened fire in the Texas church killed two people before being shot, visited the church several times this year and received food, but got angry when officials refused to give him money, the minister said.

Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, brought a shotgun to Christ Church on the West Freeway in the Fort Worth White settlement on Sunday services and opened fire, killing Church members Richard White and Anton “Tony” Wallace, according to police. Witnesses said that he was wearing a fake beard, a wig, a hat and a long coat, which attracted the attention of the church security service.

Minister Britt Farmer told The Christian Chronicle that he recognized Kinnunen after seeing his photograph without disguise.

“We helped him several times with food,” Farmer said in an interview. “He gets angry when we don’t give him money. He has been here several times.

Authorities said Kinnunen’s motive remains under investigation. He was mortally wounded by Jack Wilson, a member of the church’s voluntary security service, a few seconds after the attack.

“The only clear shot I had was his head, because I still had people on benches that were not as low as I could. It was my only shot, ”Wilson said on Monday from his home in nearby Granbury, adding that several other parishioners had also pulled out weapons.

The actions of Wilson and other armed parishioners quickly sparked praise from some Texas lawmakers and gun advocates. Texas officials hailed state gun laws, including a measure taken this year that affirmed the right of licensed gun holders to carry guns at places of worship if the facility does not prohibit them.

“We cannot prevent every incident, we cannot prevent the occurrence of a mental illness, and we cannot stop every crazy person from pulling out a gun, but we can be prepared like this church,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. reporters monday.

President Donald Trump wrote on Monday evening and Tuesday morning about the attack, both times emphasizing the role of armed citizens in stopping the shooter. “If it were not for the fact that there were people in the church who were armed and skillfully used their weapons, the end result would be disastrous. Many THANKS to them! Trump wrote on Tuesday.

But other Texas lawmakers, praising the actions of parishioners, called for a special legislative session to address the problem of gun violence after a devastating year, which included mass shootings in El Paso and the cities of West Texas, Odessa and Midland.

“As lawmakers, we must come together to counter the growing violence with guns we saw in Texas,” said Senator Beverly Powell, D-Fort Worth, in a statement on Monday. “Yesterday’s militant had a long criminal record, including aggravated assault charges and possession of illegal weapons. We must respect the Second Amendment while working together to keep arms in the hands of those who wish to harm Texans who worship in church, attend school, or shop for their children. ”

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Jamie Stengl reported from Dallas. Associated Press authors Paul J. Weber of Austin, Jill Bled of Little Rock, Arkansas, and news researcher Ronda Schaffner of New York contributed to this report.

Jamie Stengle

JAKE BLEYBERG