Worshippers at Texas church shoot and kill gunman

Member of congregation killed and one wounded after gunman opened fire

An officer stands near the scene after a church shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in White Settlement, Texas. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
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Members of a congregation shot and killed a man who opened fire in a church near Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday, police said.

The man shot dead one churchgoer and left a second with life-threatening injuries at the West Freeway Church of Christ, police chief JP Bevering said on Sunday afternoon.

“Unfortunately, this country has seen so many of these that we’ve actually gotten used to it at this point,” said Jeoff Williams, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

"And it’s tragic and it’s a terrible situation, especially during the holiday season.

“I'd like to point out that we have a couple of heroic parishioners who stopped short of just anything that you can even imagine, saved countless lives, and our hearts are going out to them and their families as well.”

Authorities have released scant details about the victims, the shooter and what led to the attack.

An elder at the church told The New York Times that the dead parishioner was a dear friend and a security guard who tried to stop the shooter.

“He was trying to do what he needed to do to protect the rest of us,” Mike Tinius said. “It’s extremely upsetting to see anyone committing violence."

Mr Tinius said he did not know the gunman and that the shooting appeared to be random.

The church live-streamed the service on YouTube and the video showed a man in a long coat producing a rifle or a shotgun that he fired twice before someone shot back, Dallas TV station WFAA reported.

Some members of the congregation ducked behind pews while others with handguns rushed the gunman. Church members could be heard screaming and crying.

Two people with minor injuries were treated at the scene, MedStar Mobile Healthcare spokeswoman Macara Trusty said.

Governor Greg Abbott asked the state to pray for the victims, their loved ones and the community of White Settlement, about 12 kilometres west of Fort Worth.

“Places of worship are meant to be sacred and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life,” Mr Abbott said on Twitter.

In November 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on the congregation at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing more than two dozen worshippers before taking his own life.