Keith Thomas Kinnunen has been identified as the gunman in the shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, on Sunday, December 29, 2019, that left two people dead. Kinnunen, 43, was fatally shot by the church’s head of security.
Kinnunen, of River Oaks, Texas, had ties to the Fort Worth area, but also lived in several states and has been homeless at times, records show. He has a lengthy criminal record that includes arrests and convictions in several states. According to officials, Kinnunen had ties to the church and had been there before, but he was not well known by churchgoers. A motive for the shooting has not been made public.
“The apparently homeless gunman who killed two worshipers Sunday had been helped with food on several occasions by the West Freeway church, but he became angry when they wouldn’t give him money, minister Britt Farmer told me. He wasn’t recognized Sunday because he wore disguises,” Bobby Ross Jr., the editor of The Christian Chronicle, tweeted.
Kinnunen’s sister, Amy Kinnunen, said Sunday was the 10th anniversary of the death of their brother by suicide, according to ABC News. She told the news network she believes Kinnunen was on his own suicide mission.
MedStar spokeswoman Macara Trusty confirmed that one person died at the scene of the shooting, and one person died en route to the hospital. Hospital officials confirmed that one of these victims was the shooter. The third victim was transported to a hospital in critical condition, but was later pronounced dead, according to White Settlement Police Chief J.P. Bevering.
At around 10:57 a.m. local time, multiple police, ATF, FBI and EMS units reported to the scene. The West Freeway Church of Christ was live-streaming its Sunday services on its YouTube channel. The horrific video shows a man firing off two shots while church-goers ducked under their seats in fear. The video, which has since been removed from the church’s YouTube channel, also showed an armed security guard, identified as Jack Wilson, taking down Kinnunen with a single shot.
Kinnunen has a long rap sheet in numerous different cities across America dating back to 1998. He’s been arrested and charged numerous times in Tucson, Arizona, Fort Worth, Texas, and Grady County, Oklahoma, where he was arrested in a domestic violence case in 2011 and charged with felony aggravated assault and battery. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault and battery charge and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and given credit for already serving that time. In 2012, he was arrested again in Oklahoma and charged with third-degree arson. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to jail time in that case.
Here’s what you need to know about Keith Thomas Kinnunen:
1. Keith Kinnunen, Whose Ex-Wife Once Wrote He Was a ‘Religious Fanatic’ Who Was ‘Battling a Demon,’ Was Born In Kansas, Had a Brief Career as a Boxer in Texas & Also Lived in Ohio & Arizona
While the deceased gunman, Keith Kinnunen, was born in Kansas on November 26, 1976, and voter registration records show that he was living in Medina County, Ohio. He also spent time living in Tucson, Arizona, where he also has a criminal record.
According to BoxRec.com, Kinnunen was a boxer in 2004 while living in Fort Worth, Texas. Records show that the middle weight division boxer only fought in two bouts. He lost by KO in October 2004, but won his other match by a KO in November of the same year.
Before moving to Texas, Kinnunen spent several years living in Tucson, Arizona, where he was arrested multiple times. He was found guilty in 1998 of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. In 2000, he was convicted in Arizona of driving without a license. In 2004, Kinnunen was arrested in Pima, Arizona, on a disorderly conduct charge, but it was dismissed.
In 2010, Kinnunen was charged in Tucson with misdemeanor theft, and then missed several court appearances in that case, leading to multiple failure to appear charges. In 2011, he was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in Tucson and also had failure to appear charges against him in that case. Kinnunen was again charged with assault (knowingly causing injury), in 2014 in Tucson.
While living in Arizona, in 1996, Kinnunen, then 19, married a 34-year-old woman, online records show. She was later listed as a domestic violence victim in the 2011 Oklahoma assault case. She sought a restraining order against Kinnunen. They later divorced, but had four children together, according to NBC DFW.
The news station obtained documents from the restraining order case in 2012 from his first ex-wife.
“Keith is a violent, paranoid person with a long line of assault and batteries with and without firearms. He is a religious fanatic, says he’s battling a demon. He is not nice to anyone,” ex-wife Cindy Glasgow-Voegel wrote in the documents, according to the news station. And that their 15-year-old son was “terrified” of his father.
Kinnunen and second wife, Angela Holloway, divorced in 2010 after eight years of marriage. “We knew he was crazy but not like this,” Holloway said. “Mentally, I know he was mentally ill. The last time he spoke to us (which was three years ago), he just wasn’t in his right mind. I didn’t know hot to go about talking to hime about it…. I don’t wish this on anybody. I feel sorry for the victims. I really do.”
2. Kinnunen Was Wearing a Fake Beard & a Trench Coat When He Entered Church Of Christ, Witnesses Say
As reported by NBC News, Dallas FBI field office special agent Matt DeSarno said that investigators were working on figuring out the shooter’s motive. He described the man as a “relatively transient” person with roots in the area.”
Bevering said of the shooter appeared to have walked into the church and sat down. “He got up, pulled out a shotgun and fired it at a parishioner,” Bevering said. “That parishioner is deceased.”
Tiffany Wallace, who witnessed the shooting and whose father, Tony Wallace, was killed, described the gunman as a white man with a fake beard and black hair who was wearing a trench coat.
Jack Wilson, the head of the church’s security team, told reporters on Monday that they had their eye on Kinnunen from the moment he walked into the church. They said they had “some concerns about him,” and had noticed he was wearing a wig and fake beard and had on a long coat. “We had cameras turned on him,” Wilson said.
Isabel Arreola, the wife of a church deacon, was sitting with her daughter two feet in front of Kinnunen, and said he made her feel “uneasy,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
“She wanted to think that he was there to worship, just like everyone else, but she had never seen him in church, and said he appeared to be in disguise,” The Star Telegram wrote. “She and her husband decided they would move to the other side of the church after communion.” Arreola said the man then stood up and pulled out a shotgun, “At the same time, we all dove for the floor. My husband covered my daughter with his body.”
Arreola told the newspaper, “I should have listened to my gut. While he was there, I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t pray. There was just something not right about him. But at the same time, I thought that maybe I was being too hard. Our church is so giving. We help the homeless. We help people get food, pay for car repairs. If he just needed something, I’m sure we would have tried to help him if he had just asked.”
3. Kinnunen Was Arrested in New Jersey After He Was Spotted Acting Suspiciously & Taking Photos of an Oil Refinery While Armed With a Shotgun
A reported by My Central Jersey, in September 2016,Around 4:30 p.m., police responded to Lower Road near the city public works garage for a report of a suspicious person on a bicycle. The resident reported a man photographing the oil tank field at the Phillips 66 refinery, which seemed suspicious. He told police he was homeless and liked taking photos while traveling around the country.
Police found Kinnunen had a contempt of court warrant in Oklahoma for felony aggravated assault. While checking his property, police also found a Mossberg .12 gauge shotgun and rounds wrapped in plastic. He was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. He was taken to Union County Jail in Elizabeth and held on $20,000 bail. He later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.
Deputy police chief Charles Stewart said River Oaks arrested him in both 2009 and 2015 on warrants for unpaid traffic tickets, NBC DFW reported.
4. Kinnunen Was Also Arrested Twice in Fort Worth & Charged With Aggravated Assault With a Deadly Weapon & Theft
Fort Worth Police Department arrested Kinnunen and charged with two counts of felony aggravated assault in 2008, a search of Texas Department of Public Safety records shows. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor deadly conduct. According to state law, deadly conduct is when a person “recklessly engages in conduct that places another person in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.” He was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
In 2013, Kinnunen was again arrested in Fort Worth, DPS records show. He was charged with misdemeanor theft of property valued between $50 to $500. He pleaded guilty in 2014 and was sentenced to 50 days in jail.
Despite his previous arrests, Kinnunen was not on any sort of “watch” list said Matthew Desarno, special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas office.
Kinnunen was once a licensed landscape irrigator and backflow prevention assembly tester, according to NBC DFW.
5. Parishioner Jack Wilson Killed Kinnunen With A Single Shot & Said He Didn’t Want ‘Evil to Succeed’
WFAA-TV’s Whitley reported that “Church security (armed members) subdued [the suspect].” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told reporters that Wilson drew his weapons and “took out the killer immediately, saving am untold number of lives.”
Jack Wilson, who’s the President of On Target Firearms Academy, and campaigning to be the Precinct 3 Commissioner, was the gunman who shot the Kinnunen. Wilson said on Facebook he didn’t want to “allow evil to succeed.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Monday that his understanding was that Kinnunen was a “more of a loner,” and that he had attended the Church of Christ several times before and was welcomed in with open arms prior to Sunday’s shooting.