Congregants shot and killed a man who opened fire at a church near Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday, killing the perpetrator, police said.
A person shot dead by the suspect also died and a second parishioner suffered serious injuries following the attack on the Western Highway Christ Church, J. Set.P. Bevering, chief of the White Settlement Police Department, told a news conference on Sunday afternoon.
The attacker fired once before congregants' "heroic actions" retaliated to stop their attack, Bevering said.
"Unfortunately, this country has seen so many of them that we have really gotten used to it right now. And it's tragic and it's a terrible situation, especially during the holidays," Jeoff Williams, regional director of the Texas Department. Security Officer said at the news conference. "I would like to point out that we have some heroic parishioners who have stopped before anything you can imagine, have saved countless lives, and our hearts are dedicated to them and their families as well."
Authorities released few details about the victims, the gunman and what led to the attack.
A church elder told the New York Times that one of the dead was a security guard who responded to the shooter by calling him a dear friend.
"He was trying to do what he needed to protect the rest of us," said elder Mike Tinius.
"It's extremely disturbing to see someone committing violence," he said.
Tinius said he did not know the shooter and that the shooting seemed to be random.
A woman who answered the phone at West Freeway Church of Christ told the AP she could not answer any questions and was directed to direct questions to the authorities.
WFAA, a Dallas-based TV station, said the church broadcast the service live on YouTube and that the video showed a man wearing a long coat producing a rifle or shotgun that fired twice before anyone retaliated. Some members of the congregation were hiding behind benches while others with guns attacked the shooter, the WFAA said. He said church members can be heard shouting and crying.
The AP did not see the video, which is marked private on the video sharing site.
Two people with minor injuries were treated at the scene, said MedStar Mobile Healthcare spokeswoman Macara Trusty.
Governor Greg Abbott asked the state to pray for the victims, their loved ones, and the White Settlement community about 12 kilometers west of Fort Worth.
"The places of worship must be sacred, and I am grateful to church members who acted swiftly to bring down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life," Abbott said in a Twitter statement.
It is not the first deadly shooting to take place in a Texas church. In November 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on the congregation in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing more than two dozen believers before taking his own life.
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