A pastor was killed and two other people were injured Sunday in a shooting at a Texas church, Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.The shooting occurred Sunday morning at Starrville Methodist Church in Starrville when the pastor found the suspect hiding in the bathroom, authorities said. The suspect grabbed the pastor’s gun and fatally shot him with it, they said.
“He starts coming toward the front door, then he turns around and lunges at the pastor and was able to disarm the pastor, it appears at this time,” said Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said. “He used … the pastor’s firearm is the one he used. The pastor is deceased at this time.”
Authorities did not release the names of the pastor or the suspect, who had snuck into the church to hide Saturday night after fleeing police following an incident, Smith said.
The suspect later left the church but returned Sunday during an early morning manhunt, he said.
One person was being treated for a gunshot wound and another for injuries related to a fall, he said.
The suspect was apprehended in neighboring Harrison County after he stole the pastor’s vehicle to flee the church, Smith said. He had a gunshot wound to his hand, but it was unclear when he was shot.
Abbott sent his condolences to the victims and their families in his statement.
“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,” Abbott said.
Starrville is about 100 miles east of Dallas.
Smith said the shooting was being investigated as a capital murder case, and it did not appear to have been motivated by anti-religious sentiment.
“This is a crime of opportunity for this man, suspect,” Smith said. “The church just happened to be here. It could have been one of these houses he went inside, but he knew people were there. … I believe he probably just got there to seek shelter.”
Smith did not provide details about why the suspect had been sought Saturday but said authorities had been working to obtain an arrest warrant for him.