A Texas pastor was shot to death Sunday morning by a man who was reportedly hiding from police in the church bathroom.
Mark McWilliams, 62, was shot by Mytrez Deunte Woolen, 21, after the pastor found him in the bathroom of the Starrville Methodist Church, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith confirmed at a press conference, People magazine reported.
Authorities have identified a pastor who was fatally shot at an East Texas church Sunday after he confronted a man who police say was fleeing from law enforcement https://t.co/lZ8Ue4gpMg
— Austin Statesman (@statesman) January 4, 2021
Police had been searching for Woolen after he allegedly displayed a gun out of the sunroof of a vehicle the night before the fatal shooting, police said, the outlet reported.
“After several hours, the search area was expanded as it was felt that the suspect had escaped the perimeter,” Smith said. (RELATED: Report: Police Say Philadelphia Teen Killed In Dispute Over Cell Phone)
Authorities believe Woolen stowed away in the church after losing police.
“Apparently, [Woolen] fled in the woods and when everyone had left he retreated into the church,” Smith said.
McWilliams reportedly drew his gun on Woolen, but the young man was able to disarm McWilliams and shoot the pastor instead, the outlet reported. After shooting the pastor, Woolen allegedly stole McWilliams’ vehicle and fled the scene, according to People magazine.
Woolen was hit with two felony assault charges and one capital murder charge, the outlet reported. He is being held on $3.5 million bond at Smith County Jail.
“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, NBC DFW reported. “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.”