Suspect in custody after shooting at Texas church leaves pastor dead

One person is dead and two others were injured after a late-night chase turned into a shooting at church.

WINONA, Texas — One person is dead and three more, including the suspect, were injured following a shooting at an East Texas church Sunday morning.

According to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, the shooting took place at Starrville Methodist Church, located on Farm-to-Market Road 16 in Winona.

The SCSO says the suspect had been hiding in the church’s bathroom following a car chase with authorities Saturday night. The SCSO says the suspect was in a dark Volkswagen Beetle and had a shotgun pointed out the window, but later left the car due to a tire blowout and ran away. 

Sheriff Smith believes the suspect took shelter in the church sometime between 10:30 p.m. and 9:30 a.m.

Early Sunday morning, the church’s pastor opened a stall in the bathroom and found the suspect, the SCSO said. According to Sheriff Larry Smith, the pastor was armed, pointed a gun at the suspect and asked him to leave. However, Sheriff Smith says the suspect disarmed the pastor, shot and killed him. 

The SCSO says the suspect then stole the pastor’s car.

The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office says the SCSO attempted to stop the vehicle in Smith County, but the driver took off east on Interstate 20. The driver, a 21-year-old Black man, continued driving reaching speeds as high as 120 miles per hour on I-20, according to the HCSO.

“As they entered Harrison County, Harrison County DPS units and Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputies assisted in the pursuit of the vehicle,” the HCSO said.

The suspect was finally stopped on Bomar at Meredith Drive in Marshall. The suspect was arrested and a weapon was recovered along with the stolen vehicle.

The suspect has a gunshot wound to the hand and is being treated at a Tyler hospital. 

The SCSO says there were two more victims, wo sustained injuries from a fall an gunshot wound. The victim with the gunshot wound is undergoing surgery. Their conditions are unknown at this time.

Sheriff Smith says the suspect will be charged with capital murder. 

Gov. Greg Abbott also confirmed the death and injuries in a press release:

“Our hearts are with the victims and the families of those killed or injured in this terrible tragedy,” Abbott said. “I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who apprehended the suspect, and I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for those affected by this horrific shooting. The State of Texas is working closely with first responders and local officials to ensure that justice is served and that the Starrville community has the resources it needs during this time.”

This is the scene outside of Starrville Methodist church in Winona where the Smith county sheriffs office says a shooting took place. There are injuries but it’s unknown how many rn. Waiting to speak to the sheriff for more info @kytxcbs19 pic.twitter.com/NFfeRT4aBo

— Matt Lackritz (@MattLackritz) January 3, 2021

Here’s the scene of a #shooting in which the pastor of Starrville Methodist Church in #Winona was killed when he confronted a suspect who was hiding in the church’s bathroom following a car chase Saturday night. #Texas #TXNews #TexasNews pic.twitter.com/8S8zcBNln4

— Reagan Roy-Young (@reaganroy) January 3, 2021

This is a developing story and CBS19 will update this article as more information becomes availble.

My condolences to the victims and families of the tragedy that took place this morning in Starrville Methodist Church in Winona, Texas. My office is ready to assist in any means necessary.

— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) January 3, 2021

Our prayers for the people of Starrville Methodist Church in Winona, Texas. A shooting took place place at the church this morning that left at least one person dead and one person injured. Services were not being held at the time. https://t.co/TiXozDcVnE

— United Methodist News (@UMNS) January 3, 2021

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