Two parish church members who carried firearms to a service prevented hundreds of fellow Texans from being shot to death on Dec. 30, an official said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has commended two parishioners for neutralizing a gunman who killed two people at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, 40 miles west of Dallas.
“The true heroes in this are the people who were sitting in those pews today and responded, the immediate responders that saved their fellow citizens,” DPS Regional Director Jeff Williams said in an ABC News video shared on Twitter. “The citizens who were inside that church undoubtedly saved 242 other parishioners … it is truly heroic and these citizens of this community have a lot to be proud of for their response.”
White Settlement Police Department previously confirmed two people including a parishioner died after a gunman entered the building and opened fire. Two parishioners, who were volunteers of the security force, immediately responded by returning fire and killed the gunman at the scene within “six seconds.” This quick response saved an “untold number of lives” according to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Williams said more than half of shootings have already ended by the time police arrive to the scene, with many of those cases being due to legislation that upholds the right to bear arms guaranteed in the Constitution.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also recently signed state Senate Bill 535, which allows “licensed handgun owners to legally carry their weapons” into churches, synagogues, and other places of worship. The legislation is widely reported to be the reason why there were so many survivors after the attack.
“As the lt. gov. mentioned, over half of these are over before we get there,” he said. “I want to commend the [White Settlement police] chief and his department, their response, it is never going to get faster than that it was miraculous.”
The incident delivered a major blow to the credibility of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, following his recent criticism of Abbott for signing the bill into law back in June.
“We are talking about loosening access to have guns, to be able to take them into places of worship, store them in school, it is just absolutely irrational,” the Democratic presidential candidate said according to a C-SPAN video shared on Twitter. “It is totally irrational.”
Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell, who cosponsored the bill, defended the bill because there is “no such thing as a gun-free zone.”
“Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what,” she said according to Fox News. “It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm.”
Patrick also commended the two parishioners for taking advantage of the new rules at a time when they were most needed.
“The immediate responder is the most important,” he said according to the broadcaster. “The citizen responder. Because even though the chief’s brave officers were here in less than a minute … by the time they got here, the shooting was over.”