Skip to Content
US & World

The gunman in the Texas church shooting had run-ins with police and had been homeless, his sister says

The gunman who fatally shot two people at a Texas church Sunday had several arrests and convictions over the past decade and, for a time, had lived on the streets, according to police and his sister.

He also was ordered to stay away from one of his ex-wives, a woman who described him as violent and paranoid in 2012, according to court documents.

Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, was shot and killed seconds after opening fire in the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement. Two parishioners — Anton Wallace, 64, and Richard White, 67 — were killed in the shooting. The church’s head of security, Jack Wilson, fatally shot Kinnunen and saved lives.

Before the shooting, Kinnunen had several run-ins with authorities. Fort Worth police arrested him in 2008 and charged him with felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to Department of Public Safety court records. The charge was later lowered to misdemeanor deadly conduct, and he was convicted in 2009, the records show. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

In 2011 he was arrested in Tuttle, Oklahoma, on suspicion of assaulting a convenience store employee and setting several items on fire around town, including tree branches doused with gasoline, a football soaked with lamp oil, and tampons soaked with oil.

He was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of a misdemeanor property charge in that case, and 90 days in jail for misdemeanor assault and battery, according to court records.

Kinnunen was diagnosed with forms of psychosis and depression and was prescribed medications to treat the conditions, according to a report by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, filed in Grady County District Court in February 2013.

The report states that during an evaluation in 2012, Kinnunen “displayed several signs of mental illness, including ‘apathy, long latency of response to questions and an impaired ability to attend, concentrate and focus.'” After receiving court-ordered treatment, which included psychotropic medication, Kinnunen’s treatment team found that his mental health had improved, according to the report.

A subsequent evaluation in 2013 found that Kinnunen’s “expressed thoughts were noted to be marked by ‘latency of response,’ but ‘otherwise…coherent'” and that “he does not currently evidence significant cognitive impairment or mental illness.”

Kinnunen said he had “received mental health treatment in the past when he ‘went in voluntarily… (for help with) depression,'” according to the report.

The report states Kinnunen was “not presently dangerous,” but also noted that if Kinnunen stopped complying with his treatment or started using alcohol or illicit substances, “his assessed dangerousness would need to be reevaluated.”

In December 2013, Fort Worth police arrested Kinnunen for misdemeanor theft and he was convicted in January 2014, the records show. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Kinnunen faced an unlawful possession of weapons charge in New Jersey in 2016, records show. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of criminal trespass, the court documents show.

Local reports at the time said Kinnunen was arrested in Linden after police found him near a Phillips 66 refinery with a 12-gauge shotgun. He was sentenced to time served, 303 days in jail.

Protective order against him

Cynthia L. Glasgow-Voegle, an ex-wife, filed a request for a protective order against Kinnunen in 2012. In her petition she wrote that he was in jail at the time, accused of assault.

She wrote,”Keith is a violent, paranoid person, with a long line of assault + battery w/+ without firearms.”

Glasgow-Voegle also described Kinnunen as troubled.

“He is a religious fanatic, (sic) says he’s battling a demon,” she wrote, underlining the word demon four times.

The protective order was granted January 19, 2012, and remained in effect until January 19, 2015, court records show.

Gunman lived on the street with his younger brother

Kinnunen was “more of a loner” who had been to the church several times before and was welcomed in, said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The gunman’s death made it even more difficult to determine his motivations, Paxton said.

Kinnunen’s sister, Amy Kinnunen, said both Keith and their younger brother, Joel, had lived on the streets. Joel took his own life in 2009 and Sunday was his birthday, she said. She told CNN she last spoke to Keith in November.

Sonia Hernandez, a former family acquaintance of Kinnunen, told CNN his brother’s death was “the most traumatic thing” for him. Hernandez said Kinnunen was previously married to her sister-in-law. She last spoke to him about a decade ago but spent time with him between 2003 and 2008 and says she got to know him well.

“He had a hard childhood,” Hernandez said. “Even when something started to go well for him, something would end up destroying that … He had what some might call demons.”

Amy Kinnunen said her brother was bouncing between the homes of friends, though White Settlement is where he most recently lived. She described him as religious and said she didn’t believe the shooting was a political act or one of revenge.

“Any problem that you had, he could give you a Bible scripture. He was very close to the Lord. I believe that is why he chose the church,” she said.

The gunman was “relatively transient but has roots to this area,” said Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas office.

He added the shooter was not on any sort of watch list.

Britt Farmer, senior minister at West Freeway Church of Christ, on Monday said Kinnunen had visited the church in the past and Farmer discussed ministering to him on more than one occasion.

“I had seen him. I had visited with him. I had given him food. I had offered him food at other occasions that he had been to our building,” Farmer said.

Farmer urged the community to pray for Kinnunen.

“We also ask that you pray for the perpetrator’s family and those who may have been affected by his loss. Our hearts are not lost in that as well,” he said. “We want this community to know that we’re strong, but we want to be strong for them and all those who come into our midst that we can wrap our arms of love around them.”

CNN