Members of the Lake Houston Methodist Church in Harris County, Texas, were left shaken Sunday morning when a man who allegedly made threats against their pastor was shot dead in the parking lot by a church member now being hailed a hero.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a press conference hours after the shooting that the man killed appeared to be a white male in his early 40s.
Gonzalez said that at approximately 9:15 a.m., police received a call from the church about a suspicious male who had come into the church’s parking lot.
“I think [he] had approached one of the members and had shared some kind of vague words that somehow his mother was previously involved at this location or with the church and that today was going to be the day and referenced the pastor,” Gonzalez. “Not specifically, but just said, today was the day and referenced the pastor.”
Officers attempted to locate the suspicious man when they first arrived on the scene, but he had already fled.
“At some point, thereafter, church members or someone here at the church alerted another person about what had occurred, and the person came over here to just assist and see what was going on,” Gonzalez continued.
The man who made the “so-called threat,” said Gonzalez, was in the parking lot when the shooter arrived on the scene. He reportedly attacked the shooter from behind with a “vape stick.”
“The second individual allegedly fired at least two shots with a long gun towards the male that was approaching, running towards him. And the male fell and collapsed there and was subsequently pronounced deceased at that time,” Gonzalez said.
He said there were at least 50 people inside the church at the time of the shooting. Aside from being shaken up by the incident, said Gonzalez, no one else except the suspect who was fatally shot was physically injured.
The shooter was described as a longtime church member and employee of Texas EquuSearch which is a nonprofit that provides “experienced, organized, and ethical volunteer search efforts for missing persons, utilizing the most suitable and up-to-date technologies and methodologies.”
Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch, told ABC 13 that he was on the phone with the shooter when the man was shot at the church.
"He's a great member. He's dedicated. He's done wonderful work. He's always there for people out there with missing loved ones," Miller said. "He was here for the protection of the people at the church."
Lake Houston Methodist Church remained closed on Monday but in a statement posted on Facebook Sunday, the church asked members of their community to pray for them.
“Please be in prayer for our church and the families of all those involved in the fatal shooting that occurred on our property this morning,” the church noted.
“Already, there is misinformation circulating on social media, and I ask that you please rely on reputable news sources, information from our conference, and from Lake Houston Methodist Church. Please pass on prayers, not speculations,” the church added. “We are asking now that you lift up our congregation, staff, members and visitors at the church in your prayers. I ask also that you pray for the family of the person involved. Finally pray for Lake Houston Methodist Church and our ministries as we continue to move forward in faith in the Huffman, Crosby, Lake Houston area.”