Local pastor killed, 2 injured in shooting at Texas church

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Smith County sheriff says shooting suspect will likely face capital murder charge

A local pastor has been killed and two others have been injured after a shooting at Starrville Methodist Church in East Texas, according to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said during a news conference that the confrontation occurred around 9:30 a.m. Sunday after the 21-year-old suspect was discovered inside the church’s bathroom with a red bank bag. 

Smith said that the pastor, who was armed, pointed a gun at the suspect and asked him to leave. However, the suspect, Mytrez Deunte Woolen, was able to disarm the pastor before shooting and killing him, officials said. 

There were two other individuals inside the church during the incident. One individual is being treated at a local hospital due to a fall while the other victim is undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound. The second victim’s condition is currently unkown. 

The Tyler Morning Telegraph reported that a neighbor and church member identified the pastor as Mark McWilliams and his wife, Rosemary, as the victim who fell. 

After fleeing the scene in the pastor’s car, Woolen was taken into custody by authorities in Harrison County. Smith said Woolen had suffered a gunshot wound through his hand, though it’s unclear when he was shot.

Prior to the incident, authorities were pursuing the suspect in an overnight manhunt that began at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night. Woolen was driving a dark Volkswagen Beetle before abandoning the car and hiding in the woods. It is unclear when the suspect may have entered the church and Smith declined to say why authorities had been searching for the man.

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