Texas pastor shot dead by man hiding in church after police chase

Starrville Methodist Church
Starrville Methodist Church in Winona, Texas |

A 21-year-old man hiding from police in the bathroom of an East Texas church killed a pastor and injured two other people, including the pastor’s wife, on Sunday.

The suspect, identified as Mytrez Beunte Woolen, shot Mark McWilliams, the pastor of the Starrville Methodist Church in Winona, while he was preparing for Sunday morning service, according to ABC13.

Woolen also shot at the pastor’s wife, Rosemary, but she escaped. However, she injured her shoulder after she fell down while running away, KHOU11 reported. The suspect also shot a male victim, Mike Sellers, who received non-life-threatening injuries.

“Our hearts are with the victims and the families of those killed or injured in this terrible tragedy,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “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.”

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith narrated the shooting incident.

“As the pastor opened the bathroom door, he was confronted by the individual who had been hiding in the church. Apparently, he fled in the woods, and when everyone had left he retreated into the church,” Tyler Morning Telegraph quoted Smith as saying. “He had one of those red bank bags that belonged to the pastor. The pastor, who had a firearm himself, apparently drew his firearm on the individual and ordered him to stop. He came toward the front door then lunged at the pastor and disarmed the pastor. He then used the pastor’s firearm.”

After the shooting, the suspect stole the pastor’s vehicle, a 2018 GMC truck, and fled. “We were able to work through some OnStar technology to find the vehicle. A Harrison County deputy was able to get behind it and it was disabled,” Smith said.

Police had been chasing Woolen since Saturday evening after reports that he brandished a shotgun out of the sunroof while driving a dark-colored Volkswagen Jetta. When a deputy tried to stop him while he was at a convenience store, the suspect drove off. He eventually ran into the woods behind the church and police were unable to locate him for several hours. Police found his identification and a shotgun inside his car at the church property.

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