Texas church gunman angered by denial of requests for cash – Shooter deemed mentally incompetent for trial in 2012

This June 16, 2015, photo provided by the River Oaks Police Department, in Texas, shows Keith Thomas Kinnunen. Authorities say that Kinnunen is the man who carried out an attack Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas. (River Oaks Police Department via AP)

By JAKE BLEIBERG and JAMIE STENGLE,  Associated Press  DALLAS (AP) 12/31 — The congregation at a Texas church where two people were fatally shot had repeatedly given food to the gunman, according to the pastor, but had declined to give money to him, angering a man who court records show was deemed mentally incompetent for trial in 2012.

It’s unclear whether Keith Thomas Kinnunen’s extensive criminal record and psychological history would have barred him from legally buying the shotgun he used during Sunday’s attack at the West Freeway Church of Christ in the Fort Worth-area town of White Settlement.

Kinnunen, 43, shot worshippers Richard White and Anton “Tony” Wallace in the sanctuary before a member of the church’s volunteer security team shot and killed him, according to police and witnesses.

Minister Britt Farmer told The Christian Chronicle that he recognized Kinnunen after seeing a photo of him without the fake beard, wig, hat and long coat he wore as a disguise to the service.

Kinnunen visited the congregation several other times this year and was given food but denied money, the minister said.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, right, puts his hand on West Freeway Church of Christ senior preaching minister Britt Farmer after speaking at a news conference following a fatal shooting at his church, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in White Settlement, Texas. (Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

 

“We’ve helped him on several occasions with food,” Farmer said in the interview. “He gets mad when we won’t give him cash.”

Farmer declined to speak to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Authorities have said Kinnunen’s motive remains under investigation and they declined to comment on how he obtained the gun he used, though a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokeswoman said it had successfully traced the weapon.

Court records portray Kinnunen as being deeply troubled long before Sunday’s attack.

In 2012, a district judge in Oklahoma ruled him mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered him committed to a psychiatric facility for treatment.

Kinnunen was charged with felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after he attacked the owner of a Chickasha, Oklahoma, doughnut shop in 2011, court records state. He was separately charged with arson that year after allegedly starting a fire in a cotton field by tying tampons soaked in lamp oil to the crop.

Jack Wilson, 71, poses for a photo at a firing range outside his home in Granbury, Texas, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. Wilson trains the volunteer security team of the West Freeway Church of Christ, where a gunman shot two people Sunday before being shot by Wilson. (AP Photo/Jake Bleiberg)

 

Earlier on the day of that fire, Kinnunen soaked a football in the accelerant, lit it on fire and threw it back and forth with his son, who was a minor, according to the arrest affidavit. The boy told police he was afraid his father would get mad if he asked to stop.

A forensic psychologist who examined Kinnunen in 2012 for both cases wrote that “Kinnunen currently evidences signs that are consistent with a substantial mental illness and that meet the inpatient criteria of a ‘person requiring treatment.’”

Records show that Kinnunen was found competent to stand trial in February 2013. However, both criminal cases were ultimately reduced to misdemeanors, to which he pleaded guilty.

One of Kinnunen’s ex-wives, Cynthia L. Glasgow-Voegle, also filed for a protective order against him in 2012, Oklahoma records show.

“Keith is a violent, paranoid person with a long line of assault and battery w/ and without firearms,” Glasgow-Voegle said in the petition. She also wrote that Kinnunen was prone to religious fanaticism and “says he’s battling a demon.”

Kinnunen got “more and more” into drugs and “it messed with his head” during their marriage, Angela Holloway, whose divorce from him was finalized in 2011, told the AP.

Church and community members gather outside West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, for a candlelight vigil, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. A gunman shot and killed two people before an armed security officer returned fire, killing him during their service on Sunday. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

 

Holloway, a 44-year-old Fort Worth resident, said she hadn’t spoken to Kinnunen in years and learned from news reports that he was the church attacker. She said she and Kinnunen used to attend church together and that there were times he appeared to be off drugs, but that he was frightening by the end of their six-year marriage.

“He was really disturbed,” Holloway said.

She said that she doesn’t know whether Kinnunen was ever diagnosed with a mental illness and that she wasn’t sure whether he could legally have guns, but that he consistently did.

“I don’t know how he got them; I just know that he did have them,” she said.

In 2016, Kinnunen was arrested in New Jersey and charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. He eventually pleaded guilty to the lesser crime of criminal trespass, court records show. In Texas, he was charged with aggravated assault in 2008 but pleaded down to misdemeanor deadly conduct.

Federal law defines nine categories that would prohibit someone from being legally allowed to own or possess a firearm. They include being convicted of any felony charge or misdemeanor domestic violence, being subject to a restraining order or active warrants, being addicted to drugs, and being involuntarily committed to a mental health institution or being found by a court to be “a mental defective.” However, it remained unclear whether Kinnunen qualified under any of the categories.

Stephen Willeford, center, who confronted and exchanged gunfire with the Sutherland Springs church shooter in 2017, joins church and community members gathered outside West Freeway Church of Christ for a candlelight vigil, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, in White Settlement, Texas. A gunman shot and killed two people before an armed security officer returned fire, killing him during a service at the church on Sunday. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

 

Despite a judge’s initial finding that Kinnunen was mentally incompetent to stand trial in Oklahoma, that wouldn’t necessarily have prevented him from legally purchasing a firearm, said Edwin Walker, a Houston-based attorney for U.S. & Texas Law Shield, a company that provides legal protection to gun owners.

“If he had only misdemeanors and none of those were for domestic violence, and his competency had been restored by judicial decree, then yes, he would have been able to purchase a firearm,” Walker said.

Seconds after Kinnunen opened fire in the church, Jack Wilson, a 71-year-old firearms instructor, shot him once in the head.

The actions of Wilson and other armed churchgoers drew praise from some Texas lawmakers and gun-rights advocates. Texas officials hailed the state’s gun laws, including a measure enacted in 2019 that affirmed the right of licensed handgun holders to carry a weapon inside places of worship unless a facility bans them.

“We can’t prevent every incident, we can’t prevent mental illness from occurring, and we can’t prevent every crazy person from pulling a gun, but we can be prepared like this church was,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told reporters Monday.

Church and community members, including Matt Pacholczyk, left, and his wife, Faith Pacholczyk, stand outside West Freeway Church of Christ for a candlelight vigil, Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, in White Settlement, Texas. A gunman shot and killed two people before an armed security officer returned fire, killing him during a service at the church on Sunday. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

 

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday night and Tuesday morning about the attack, both times highlighting the role of armed citizens in stopping the shooter. “If it were not for the fact that there were people inside of the church that were both armed, and highly proficient in using their weapon, the end result would have been catastrophic. A big THANK YOU to them!” Trump tweeted.

But other Texas lawmakers, while praising the churchgoers’ actions, called for a special legislative session to address gun violence after a devastating year that included mass shootings in El Paso and the West Texas cities of Odessa and Midland.

“We must respect the Second Amendment while also working together to keep guns out of the hands of those who wish to do harm to Texans worshiping in a church, attending school or shopping for their children,” state Sen. Beverly Powell, D-Fort Worth, said in a statement.

___

Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber in Austin, Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas, Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, David Porter in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

https://apnews.com/856bfff9dc582b934ff8f60c7cb3af28

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Church Shootings, Crime & Criminals, Criminal Record, Deaths, Firearms, Homicide, Lawfully Armed Citizens, Mass Casualty Attacks, Mental Illness, Murder/Attempted Murder, Public Safety, Self-Defense, Shootings, Use of Deadly Force, Victims of Crime

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 × 4 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.