Suspect in Texas Church Slaying Found, Charged

Pastor was shot to death after finding a man hiding in the bathroom: sheriff
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2021 6:25 PM CST
Suspect Held in Shooting of Pastor in His Church
Mytrez Deunte Woolen is Smith County Jail in Texas on $3.5 million bail.   (Smith County Sheriff's Office via AP)

A suspect has been located, charged and jail in the fatal shooting of a Texas church pastor Sunday. Mytrez Deunte Woolen faces two felony assault charges and a capital murder charge, USA Today reports. The pastor, Mark Allen McWilliams, was killed after finding a man hiding in the bathroom of Starrville Methodist Church. The sheriff's office said Woolen was on the run from police when he took refuge in the church. "This is not a church-related, religion-related offense," Sheriff Larry Smith said. Two other people were injured. There were no services in the church at the time.

After the shooting, Smith said, the suspect took a vehicle belonging to one of the victims and drove away. Searchers found the vehicle using its GPS system, per CNN. The suspect had crashed Saturday night while being chased by police and sheriff's deputies and taken off on foot. "What we believe happened this morning is the suspect backtracked his way—after deputies left the area—and came back and in order to get out of the cold," the sheriff said Sunday, "and entered a broken window and entered the church." The pastor, who was carrying a gun, found the man in the bathroom in the morning. The suspect wrestled the gun from him, Smith said, and fired. Woolen was treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound; its origin wasn't clear. (Read more church shootings stories.)

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