A horrific incident occurred at a church in a small Texas town over the weekend.
On Sunday, a 21-year-old man opened fire at a church in Winona, Texas, killing the church’s pastor and injuring two others, The New York Times reported.
The suspect has been identified as Mytrez Deunte Woolen, a resident of Marshall, Texas. He has been taken into custody where he is being held on a $3.5 million bond and is facing charges of first-degree murder and felony assault, reports noted.
The incident began on Saturday with a car chase, according to the Associated Press. Authorities were pursuing Woolen after he allegedly brandished a shotgun through the sunroof of his vehicle while driving.
After Woolen managed to escape into a wooded area, he is believed to have broken into the Starville Methodist Church early Sunday morning. Later that morning, he was discovered in the church’s bathroom by Pastor Mark Allen McWilliams.
The pastor was armed and brandished his weapon when he discovered Woolen. According to reports, the suspect then lunged at the pastor and managed to grab the gun and shoot him fatally. Fortunately, no church services were being held at the time, although two others at the church were injured, including the pastor’s wife.
Woolen then stole the pastor’s vehicle and fled the scene. After another car chase, police finally apprehended Woolen in nearby Harrison County.
“Swift justice” is on the way
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) released a statement on the matter, expressing his sympathy for the victims.
“Our hearts are with the victims and the families of those killed or injured in this terrible tragedy,” Abbott said. “I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who apprehended the suspect, and I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for those affected by this horrible shooting.
“Texas will seek swift justice for the shooter,” Abbott added. “We thank law enforcement for their response. Keep the harmed in your prayers.”
According to authorities, the exact motive for Woolen’s actions is not clear.
“As far as I’m concerned this is not a church-related or religion-related offense,” Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said, according to local NBC affiliate KXAS. “This was an opportunity that was convenient for the guy to come out of the woods…and apparently he was still there when they came to the church this morning.”