A suspect was taken into custody after a shooting at a church in East Texas on Sunday morning. Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said Sunday that the person killed in the shooting was the pastor of Starville Methodist Church. Another person was undergoing surgery for a gunshot injury and a female victim was injured in a fall.
Police had been pursuing the suspect on Saturday night in a car chase when the suspect crashed his car through a yard near the church. Law enforcement searched the area for about two hours but found no sign of the man. At 9:21 a.m. on Sunday the pastor opened the door to the bathroom and confronted the man, who had been hiding in the church, said Smith. The pastor drew a firearm and told the suspect to stop, at which point the suspect disarmed the pastor and shot him with his own weapon.
Police say they do not believe the shooting was a “church-related or religion-related offense,” noting the suspect was seen holding a red bank bag when he encountered the pastor. Texas Gov. Abbott issued a statement offering condolences to the victims and their families, adding that the state is “working closely with first responders and local officials to ensure that the justice is served and that the Starville community has the resources it needs during this time.”