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Sheriff: Pastor dead, 2 hurt in shooting at Texas church

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Posted at 12:31 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 12:40:58-05

WINONA, Texas (AP) — Authorities say a pastor has been killed and two other people were injured during a shooting at an East Texas church.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith says the suspected gunman, 21-year-old Mytrez Deunte Woolen, was on the run from authorities late Saturday and had hidden in the Starrville Methodist Church near Winona.

Smith says Pastor Mark Allen McWilliams confronted Woolen in a church bathroom on Sunday morning.

After discovering Woolen in a bathroom, CNN reported that McWilliams drew a gun and ordered Woolen to lay down. But McWilliams became distracted and Woolen was able to grab the weapon from McWilliams.

Woolen shot and killed the 62-year-old pastor, wounded another person and a third was injured in a fall.

The shooting suspect fled in the pastor's vehicle but was later arrested.

According to USA Today, police said the shooting was not motivated by church or religion. They believe the suspect hid in the church because it was convenient.

USA Today reported that services were not being held at the time of the shooting and only four people were inside the church when the shooting occurred.

Smith says Woolen faces capital murder and felony assault charges.

According to Smith County jail records, Woolen is being held on a $3.5 million bond.