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Suspect in fatal East Texas church shooting found incompetent to stand trial

According to officials with the Smith County 7th District Court, the ruling for Mytrez Deunte Woolen, 22, was made during a status hearing Monday morning.

SMITH COUNTY, Texas — **EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from CBS19's coverage on the day of the shooting.

The suspect in a Jan. fatal shooting at a church in East Texas has been found incompetent to stand trial.

The ruling for Mytrez Deunte Woolen, 22, was made during a Zoom hearing in the Smith County 7th District Court on Monday morning.

According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Judge Kerry Russell noted this is the first case in his career he's seen a person charged with capital murder found incompetent to stand trial at this point in the pre-trial proceedings.

Woolen is accused of murdering Pastor Mark McWilliams and injuring parishioner William Sellars on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, at Starrville Methodist Church in Winona.

According to the arrest affidavit, around 9:22 a.m. that day, Smith County deputies were called to the scene of the church, located at 17339 Farm-to-Market Road 16.

Officials say Rosemary McWiliams, the pastor's wife, claimed she and her husband had found someone in their church and her husband had been shot. During the 911 call, dispatchers reported gunshots and screaming could be heard in the background. She stated the suspected shooter, identified later as Woolen, was wearing jeans and a gray sweater, and stole a pickup truck to escape the area.  

RELATED: Suspect in East Texas church shooting had previous arrests in Harrison, Tarrant Counties

RELATED: AFFIDAVIT: Suspect in fatal Starrville Methodist Church shooting also stole church's money bag before taking off in vehicle

When deputies arrived on scene, they found Sellars sitting outside the church with what appeared to be gunshot wounds, according to the affidavit. Sellars told officials when he arrived at the church, he heard gunshots coming from inside. He said he then saw Woolen coming toward the front door and Woolen began shooting toward him. Sellars said he tried to run for cover, but was shot before the suspect drove off.

Another witness, who was at the scene during the shooting, said Pastor McWilliams opened a bathroom door and put up his hands. The pastor then told the suspect, who was holding the church's money bag, to leave the church. The witness said the pastor continued to tell the suspect to leave and took out his handgun. According to the affidavit, it was at this time Woolen rushed toward Pastor McWilliams and the two began fighting on the ground. Woolen was able to take the gun from the pastor and shot several times in the chest, the affidavit states. He then reportedly began shooting at the pastor's wife who was hiding by the stove. The witness said Woolen approached him demanding his truck keys and ran out of the church.

Once law enforcement obtained the witness's vehicle information, ONSTAR was able to track the vehicle which was headed east on Interstate 20 toward Marshal, according to the affidavit. The affidavit says the Harrison County Sheriff's Office was able to catch up with Woolen who refused to stop. ONSTAR then disabled the vehicle and a traffic stop was conducted. The affidavit states Woolen was then taken into custody without incident. The church's money bag was also found in the vehicle.

Pastor McWilliams died from his injuries, while Sellars was sustained non-life threatening injuries that required surgery. Rosemary was injured in a fall.

Woolen was booked into the Smith County Jail on $3,500,000 bond.

RELATED: Man accused of killing East Texas pastor pleads 'not guilty' during first court appearance

RELATED: Man accused of murdering East Texas pastor indicted by Smith County grand jury


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