Ryan W. Miller, USA Today, January 4, 2021
Authorities 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 and hid in the church overnight.
Mark Allen McWilliams, 62, was killed and two other people were injured when Mytrez Deunte Woolen, 21, allegedly grabbed McWilliams’ firearm and began shooting at Starrville Methodist Church, authorities say.
Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said at a news conference Sunday that Woolen brandished a shotgun through the sunroof of a car Saturday, prompting the initial search.
Authorities relied on dogs and drones to search for the man late into the night in the woods near Winona, about 100 miles east of Dallas. The man hid inside the church’s bathroom some time after 2 a.m., and McWilliams discovered him early Sunday, Smith said.
McWilliams drew a gun and ordered Woolen to lay down upon discovering him, Smith said. McWilliams was with his wife in the church, however, and was distracted, allowing Woolen to lunge and grab the weapon, Smith said. McWilliams was fatally shot and another person was injured in the gunfire. A third person was injured in a fall.