Why would a man open fire in the middle of a church service? It’s still not entirely clear, but the senior minister of the church did say he had encountered the suspect before.
Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety on Monday said Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, killed two men Sunday morning at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, according to a statement obtained by Law&Crime. The attacker previously got mad when the church wouldn’t give him money, Senior Minister Britt Farmer told Christian Chronicle editor-in-chief Bobby Ross Jr.
Authorities said that, according to preliminary reports, Kinnunen entered the building, sat with congregants, and pulled out a shotgun. He opened fire, investigators said. A member of the congregation fired back.
Kinnunen was killed at the scene, authorities said. Officers said he took the lives of two men: Fort Worth man Anton Wallace, 64, and River Oaks man Richard White, 67. They died at a local hospital.
For now, officers are mum about the circumstances leading up to the shooting, as well as the alleged motive.
“The investigation is ongoing, and no additional information is available at this time,” said the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“You just wonder why?” Wallace’s daughter Tiffany Wallace told NBC DFW. “How can someone so evil–the devil–step into the church and do this?”
Senior Minister Britt Farmer said Kinnunen was homeless and was fed by the church on several occasions.
The apparently homeless gunman who killed two worshipers Sunday had been helped with food on several occasions by the West Freeway church, but he became angry when they wouldn’t give him money, minister Britt Farmer told me. He wasn’t recognized Sunday because he wore disguises.
— Bobby Ross Jr. (@bobbyross) December 30, 2019
“He gets mad when we won’t give him cash,” Farmer said.
Farmer later said he didn’t initially recognize the shooter as Kinnunen because the suspect was wearing a wig, a fake beard and a duster.
Jack Wilson, a church member, has been credited with fatally shooting Kinnunen. Wilson said he fired one shot.
On Sunday, authorities hadn’t yet released Kinnunen’s name, but described him as “relatively transient” and said he was arrested multiple times.
Kinnunen had been charged in Tarrant County with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2009, and theft of property in 2013, according to NBC DFW. He was also arrested in 2016 for unlawful possession of a weapon. He allegedly possessed a shotgun in New Jersey while facing a contempt of court warrant in Oklahoma related to felony aggravated assault.
[Mugshot via Tarrant County Jail]
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