The sister of a gunman who shot and killed two worshipers at Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, Sunday morning says her brother had battled inner demons since childhood.
The shooter, Keith Thomas Kinnunen, was taken down within six seconds by Jack Wilson, a 71-year-old firearms instructor who said in a Facebook post that the events at West Freeway Church of Christ “put me in a position that I would hope no one would have to be in,” but added that “evil exists and I had to take out an active shooter in church.”
The gunman's sister, Amy Kinnunen, said in an interview with NBC's Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate KXAS that her brother “was a lost soul that had demons from a childhood. … I keep repeating this, but we are products from our environment,” she said.
Speaking from her home near Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, Kinnunen told the news station that her brother’s actions are impossible to fully comprehend.
“Why he did it this way, I have no idea,” she said. “He did it in the church because he was extremely religious and I feel like I’m confident that he was praying to the good Lord up to the last minute.”
The shooter wore a dark hooded sweatshirt and a fake beard as he sat among the 240 congregants in the church on Sunday before carrying out the attack. A livestream recording of the church’s morning service showed the shooting and the aftermath.
The 43-year-old gunman killed the church's security guard Richard White, 67, and grandfather Anton "Tony" Wallace, 64.
According to his sister, Keith Kinnunen lived a troubled childhood and spent years in and out of jail. Amy Kinnunen believes he chose Sunday to carry out the attack because their younger brother died by suicide on the same date years ago.
“I hate to use the word ‘perfect’ but it was Sunday, it was his brother’s birthday and he just … demons just ended up getting a hold of him,” she said. “He loved his brother and he felt it was his time to go.”
Amy Kinnunen also supposes that her brother wore a fake beard and disguise because he had attended the church on several occasions where he was provided with food and clothing, and he did not want to be recognized.
“There was compassion. They knew him as a person. Going in there with a beard and fake hair, nobody would’ve known who he was and it would have been easier to pull the trigger,” she said.
According to the church's senior minister, they believe the gunman opened fire because he grew angry when they refused to give him cash.
"We've helped him on several occasions with food," Senior Minister Britt Farmer told The Christian Chronicle. "He gets mad when we won't give him cash. He's been here on multiple occasions."
KXAS reported that authorities found a handwritten letter next to the shooter’s body addressed to his son.
His sister said she doesn’t know what the letter contained but revealed that he often wrote letters to his son with whom he was estranged.