By the time the man approached a communion server and pulled out a shotgun, Wilson and another security volunteer were already reaching for their own guns.
The attacker shot the other volunteer, Richard White, and then the server, Anton “Tony” Wallace, sending congregants scrambling for cover. The gunman was heading toward the front of the sanctuary as Wilson searched for a clear line of fire.
“I didn’t have a clear window," he said, referring to church members who "were jumping, going chaotic.” Wilson, a 71-year-old firearms instructor who has also been a reserve sheriff's deputy, said: “They were standing up. I had to wait about half a second, or a second, to get my shot. I fired one round. The subject went down.”
Wilson’s single shot quickly ended the attack that killed Wallace, 64, and White, 67, at the West Freeway Church of Christ in the Fort Worth-area town of White Settlement. He said the entire confrontation was over in no more than six seconds. More than 240 congregants were in the church at the time.
“The only clear shot I had was his head because I still had people in the pews that were not all the way down as low as they could. That was my one shot,” Wilson said Monday from his home in nearby Granbury.
As Wilson approached the fallen attacker, he noticed five or six other members of the volunteer security team he had trained with their guns drawn. Wilson said they had their eyes on the man since he arrived. During the service, White and Wilson had stationed themselves at the back of the church, watching him.
The Texas Department of Public Safety on Monday identified the attacker as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43. His motive is under investigation.
Speaking outside the church Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said authorities “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.”
Britt Farmer, senior minister of the church, said Sunday, “We lost two great men today, but it could have been a lot worse."
Wilson described the attacker's gun as a short-barreled 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip. Shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches long are restricted under federal law and can be legally owned in Texas only if they are registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
After the shooting, Texas officials hailed the state’s gun laws, including a measure enacted this year that affirmed the right of licensed handgun holders to carry a weapon in places of worship, unless the facility bans them.