Investigators are looking into what was behind a bloody weekend for people of faith in Texas and New York.
Two people were killed and three injured when a gunman opened fire during a church service near Fort Worth. That attack could have been much worse if it hadn't been for the heroes who stopped him. And just outside New York City, five people were stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration.
A Livestream camera during Sunday church service at the West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth, Texas showed a man wearing a large coat sitting in the back of the sanctuary. Suddenly, as worshippers began taking communion, he pulled out a shotgun and opened fire.
Heroes with Guns
Panic ensued as people ducked for cover. Several church members from the church's security team pull their guns and fired back, striking the gunman. Police say it was all over within six seconds.
"The citizens who were inside that church, undoubtedly saved 242 other parishioners," insisted Public Safety Director Jeff Williams.
The gunman killed two people before the parishioners shot him. Three others were injured. Police are investigating to determine a motive for the church attack.
"It was a sad thing that he had to come into the congregation to hurt people, and it was a sad thing that we had to hurt him," said Freeway Church member John Richardson.
Church member Jack Wilson said he wished he didn't have to take the action he did, but it was essential for preventing a massacre. "I just want to thank all who have sent their prayers and comments on the events of today. The events at West Freeway Church of Christ put me in a position that I would hope no one would have to be in, but evil exists and I had to take out an active shooter in church."
"I’m thankful to GOD that I have been blessed with the ability and desire to serve him in the role of head of security at the church. I am very sad in the loss of two dear friends and brothers in CHRIST, but evil does exist in this world and I and other members are not going to allow evil to succeed. Please pray for all the members and their families in this time. Thank you for your prayers and understanding," Wilson wrote on Facebook.
Hanukkah Stabbing Near NYC
And north of New York City, police have a suspect in custody after a stabbing incident targeting Jewish people late Saturday evening in Rockland County.
What should have been a joyous holiday occasion turned into tragedy for some Hasidic Jews gathered for a Hanukkah dinner. They were at the home of their rabbi when a man entered wielding a machete.
"He took out his knife from a holder and started hitting people back and forth. He didn't say anything. He went into the dining room and hit a few people there and then he went to the kitchen and hit one guy there and then he came back to the dining room," witness Joseph Gluck explained.
"He screamed after me when he came out here, he screamed after me – 'Hey you, I'll get you!'"
Five people were injured in the attack. Gluck wrote down the license plate number of the suspect's car and passed it on to the police. They apprehended the alleged attacker and the car was found 30 miles away in New York City.
The suspect reportedly suffers from mental illness and his family believes that was why he launched his assault, not out of hatred for Jewish people. Still, the attack has left the Jewish community on edge.
Witness Aron Wieder said the people attending the Hanukkah dinner were frightened, "But we were not surprised because this is not the first incident in New York."
The FBI is investigating nine possible cases of anti-Semitic violence in the region within just the last few weeks.
They include an incident where a group of teens knocked a Jewish man to the ground. And earlier this month, six people were left dead during a mass shooting at a kosher market in northern New Jersey.
Wieder and others are perplexed and wonder about the reason for the recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks.
"Why is this happening? That's a question on everyone's mind," he said.