WHITE SETTLEMENT – Following the shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ this morning, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick joined law enforcement leaders from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety, the White Settlement Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and West Freeway’s pastor for a press conference earlier this evening. Here is a summary of his remarks:
“Our hearts are heavy today as we pray for the victims of this tragic shooting, their families, this church and this community. But we are also grateful and thankful for the unparalleled heroism of two parishioners who were determined to protect the people in their church community. Because of the quick action of these two men, this evil event was over in six seconds. There is no way to know how many lives they saved. The brave officers from the White Settlement Police Department were on the scene in less than two minutes, but these men who had volunteered for the church security team had already secured their church.
“Following the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in November, 2017, we have taken a number of steps to help make sure that our places of worship — which should be a refuge from evils of the world — are safe for all who attend.
“After that shooting, I asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to review what legal options churches have to improve security and also to affirm that it is lawful for citizens with a licensed permit to carry for self-defense in church as long as the church has not posted against it. General Paxton issued an opinion in 2018 affirming the right to carry in church and Senator Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, authored Senate Bill 535 in the 2019 Legislative Session making it clear that licensed holders may carry for self-defense in places of worship. Governor Abbott signed SB 535 into law earlier this year.
“In 2017, Senator Kelly Hancock, R-Richland Hills, sponsored Senate Bill 2065 which exempted churches from the state fees private institutions must pay to form their own security forces because they imposed a significant burden on smaller churches. Gov. Abbott signed the bill into law in 2017.
“I spoke with Governor Abbott earlier today and we have pledged all the resources of the state to assist the investigation being conducted by the law enforcement team here in White Settlement.”
The investigation is being led by DPS in cooperation with the White Settlement Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.