Texas gunman grew angry in past over cash requests

DALLAS (AP) — 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 last 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 recognised 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 last year and was given food but denied money, the minister said.

In this still frame from livestreamed video provided by law enforcement, churchgoers take cover while a congregant armed with a handgun (Top left) engages a man who opened fire (Near top centre just right of windows) during a service at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas on December 29, 2019. PHOTO: 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 portrayed Kinnunen as being deeply troubled long before last 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.

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 misdemeanours, 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 with and without firearms,” Glasgow-Voegle said in the petition.

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