Sheriff identifies pastor killed in East Texas church shooting

National News

WINONA, Texas (KXAN) — An overnight manhunt ended in a deadly encounter for a local pastor and the missing suspect inside a Winona, Texas, church on Sunday morning.

Even though the pastor of the Starrville Methodist Church was armed, when the two collided inside the church, the suspect was able to disarm him, said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith on Sunday.

According to the sheriff, the pastor confronted the suspect in the church’s bathroom, where the man was holding one of the church’s bank bags.

“We’re looking at a capital murder investigation here,” Smith explained.

The pastor, identified as Pastor Mark McWilliams, ultimately died from his injuries and several others were injured.

The shooter, Mytrez Deunte Woolen, who had a gunshot wound to the hand, was taken into custody and at last check is at the Smith County Jail. He is charged with aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and capital murder.

He was a known man to law enforcement, according to Smith, and was a suspect in a previous drive-by shooting.

On Sunday afternoon, Smith explained the incident began after police in Lindale, Texas, received calls about the suspect, but never were able to see his vehicle. Smith County Sheriff’s deputies saw the vehicle later on, and a pursuit began around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Lindale is about 17 miles from Winona.

The suspect continued driving, ultimately careening into a front yard and running away.

Smith said the suspect disappeared into the woods and a fruitless several hours-long manhunt began. It’s now believed he entered the church and remained there until the Sunday morning confrontation.

The incident is not believed to be politically or religiously motivated in any way, Smith urged. “The church just happened to be a location he could get into,” he explained.

Smith explained that two of the people involved in the incident were carrying firearms at the time. In reference to church security, Smith added that if people are going to carry firearms, they’ve “got to be willing to use it.”

He explained that he wasn’t, however, blaming or taking fault with the pastor’s actions.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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