Texas church shooting: Fugitive destroyed priest, officials say

A fatal confrontation broke out at a church between her pastor and a fugitive hiding there Sunday morning in East Texas after a police chase Saturday evening, police said.

A shooting at a Starville Methodist church in Starville, Texas, killed a pastor of a small, unorganized community 100 miles east of Dallas and wounded three others, including a gunman, officials said.

The man was fleeing from police in a Volkswagen Jetta on Saturday evening, firing a shotgun from the car’s sunroof while chasing, while state troopers in a patrol car hit the jetty near the church, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith told a news conference Sunday.

The man ran into the woods, which included drones and dogs that lasted more than two hours.

It was not immediately clear what the chase was, but the sheriff said the license plates on what Jetta was driving were “fictional – it was not based on that vehicle.”

After he fired the officers, the man took refuge in the church late Saturday or early Sunday, Sheriff Smith said.

The pastor, his wife and two others entered the church at 9.30am local time on Sunday as no fugitives were hiding in their house of worship.

The sheriff said, “Nothing out of the ordinary. But when the pastor opened the restroom door, he fled, holding a red bank bag, which belonged to the church, Sheriff Smith said.

Before the man could confront the pastor, the pastor pulled out his gun and “ordered him to stop,” the sheriff said.

But as they approached the front door, the man robbed the priest and overpowered him, grabbed a gun and shot the priest. It was not immediately clear what kind of gun the priest had or what happened to Shad Tugan during the chase.

The sheriff said the gunman fled into the priest’s car before state agents could apprehend him after locating the vehicle using Onstar.

The gunman was shot in the left arm, though it was not immediately clear if it was during a confrontation with a priest, officials said.

Another man, who was shot, underwent surgery Sunday afternoon at UT Health East Texas Hospital, officials said. His condition was not immediately available.

Another man, a woman who was not shot, sustained fatal injuries from the fall during the post-shooting chaos. She was in the same hospital in stable condition, a hospital spokesman said.

Officials did not immediately identify the victims or the gunman. The shooting did not appear to have any religious motive and was a crime of chance, the sheriff said.

“It was convenient for that guy to get out of the woods – it was cold last night – find him a cozy place to stay and obviously, he was there when they came to church this morning.” Said Sheriff Smith.

The pastor, who has been in office for less than a year, went to Starville to run the church and had no close family in the area, said Sam Griffith, a Starville resident who preached at the church.

He wondered if such an episode could occur when the pastor was trying to prepare the building for Sunday service.

“You turn on the heat and boil the coffee and all of a sudden you come in front of the guy,” he said.

Helen Lori, a Starville resident who lives near the church, said there are many residents in the community whose families have lived there since the founding of the 1800s.

“I grew up in that church,” Ms. Lori, 60, said Sunday. “This is shocking.”

Government Greg Abbott Said in a statement That state is “working with first responders and local authorities to ensure justice is done and the Starville community has the resources it needs during this time.”

In a separate message on Twitter“He will seek speedy justice for the Texas shooter,” he said.