A gunman killed two people before parishioners shot and killed him at a church near Fort Worth, Texas, on Sunday, authorities said.
J.P. Bevering, police chief of White Settlement, in Tarrant County, said the man opened fire at West Freeway Church of Christ during services shortly before noon. Worshipers returned fire, killing the gunman, Bevering said.
One person was pronounced dead shortly after the shooting. Another parishioner who was in critical condition later died, authorities said.
“We lost two great men today,” Britt Farmer, the church’s senior pastor, told reporters late Sunday. “But it could’ve been a lot worse.”
Jeoff Williams, north Texas regional director for the state Public Safety Department, said the investigation was still in its preliminary stages.
“I would like to point out that we have a couple of heroic parishioners who stopped short of just anything that you could even imagine and saved countless lives,” Williams said. “Our hearts are going out to them and their families, as well.”
Fort Worth police told NBC News that the department was assisting local authorities.
Fort Worth police Sgt. Christopher Daniels said that a video of the service streamed online earlier Sunday may have documented the attack but that it was removed from YouTube.
Britt Farmer, the church’s senior preaching minister, confirmed the video’s existence to NBC News. Farmer said he was inside at the time of the shooting and was distraught over the attack.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting an “evil act of violence” in a statement Sunday afternoon.
“Places of worship are meant to be sacred, and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life,” Abbott said.
White Settlement was given its name in the 1800s by Native Americans after non-Indigenous families began to settle in the area, according to the city’s website.