Two parishioners have shot and killed a gunman who opened fire at a church in Texas, in an attack in which two others died.
The gunman fired once after entering the West Freeway Church of Christ, in White Settlement, a suburb northwest of Fort Worth, before members of the church retaliated to stop him, police said.
Officials have confirmed that the armed parishioners were part of the church’s volunteer security team.
Lt Gov Dan Patrick said: “Within six seconds, the shooting was over. Two of the parishioners who were volunteers of the security force drew their weapons and took out the killer immediately, saving untold number of lives.”
Britt Farmer, a senior minister at the church, added: “We lost two great men today, but it could have been a lot worse.”
More than 240 people were in the church for the service, which was being live-streamed on YouTube at the time.
Footage shows a man wearing a long coat producing a rifle or a shotgun before firing.
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The gunman and one of the victims died en route to the hospital, according to Macara Trusty, a spokeswoman for local emergency services MedStar.
Witness Isabel Arreola told local news channel CBS 11: “You feel like your life is flashing before you. I was so worried about my little one.”
Speaking at a news conference following the attack, Jeoff Williams, a regional director with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said: “Unfortunately, this country has seen so many of these that we’ve actually gotten used to it at this point. And it’s tragic and it’s a terrible situation, especially during the holiday season.
“I would like to point out that we have a couple of heroic parishioners who stopped short of just anything that you can even imagine, saved countless lives, and our hearts are going out to them and their families as well.”
Governor Greg Abbott tweeted a statement following the attack, saying: “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.”
This is not the first deadly shooting to take place at a church in Texas. In November 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on the congregation at a church in Sutherland Springs, killing more than two dozen worshippers before taking his own life.