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Member who survived Texas church shooting: 'We can't have hate for anybody that does hate for us'

Church member John Richardson said he laid on top of his wife to protect her from gunfire.

WHITE SETTLEMENT, Texas — This story has been updated to reflect the number of those killed in the shooting.

John Richardson said he laid on top of his wife to protect her from gunfire during a shooting Sunday morning at a White Settlement church that left three dead, including the gunman. 

The church community is grieving after the shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ

Richardson said he and his wife hit the ground as soon as they heard gunshots. He said he would pray for the suspect’s family and that his heart went out to them.

"Evil is everywhere. No amount of preaching or teaching -- if evil's going to do something horrible, evil is going to do something horrible," said Richardson. "All you can do is do your best to stop evil from happening to more people. That's all you can do."

The gunman was killed by an armed congregant. 

Richardson said his heart "goes out to" the gunman's family. 

RELATED: 2 church members, gunman killed in White Settlement church shooting

Credit: WFAA
John Richardson

Richardson expressed his deep sorrow that three people died, while emphasizing that hatred is not the way to respond.

"We can't have hate for these people. We can't have hate for anybody that does hate for us," he said. "We have to live that life of Christ that wants us to teach and preach and be that example of His on Earth. To every person we can reach." 

Richardson also said the community will now focus on taking care of who they can and appreciating every moment they're given.

"Love everybody with the love of Christ that you can love," he said.    

'Shooter was sitting next to my mother' 

Credit: WFAA
Melanie Davis

Melanie Davis's mother was inside the church during the shooting. 

"I'm just giving all the glory to God, because he protected my mom. I mean the shooter was sitting next to my mother," Davis said. 

She said her mother didn't recognize the suspected shooter but noticed that he was wearing a fake beard and sunglasses.

"She knew from growing up at church that she didn't recognize this gentleman," Davis said. "The moment she saw the shotgun come out, she went under the bench and hid."

'You can't go anywhere'

Tristan Stone said his grandmother was inside the church during the shooting. 

"It's scary; you can't go anywhere anymore these days," he said. "For this event to happen, it's tragic, it really is." 

He said his grandmother is "highly dedicated" to the "wonderful church." 

Stone waited outside the church after the shooting. He said he wanted to hug his grandmother. 

He said he was thankful for the armed security guard who was inside during the shooting.

"I'm all for our Second Amendment, 100%," Stone said. "I love our rights."

Listen to the raw interviews below:


'They are their family'

Credit: WFAA
Dannetta Maldonaldo

Dannetta Maldonaldo's parents were also inside the church at the time.

"[My father] said he heard the first shot, took [my mother] down from her chair, and that the shooter was rushed," Maldonaldo said.

She said she didn't know who had stopped the shooter, but "he was stopped pretty quickly, because I believe they knew what they were doing."

"It was very lucky, we're very blessed if you think about it."

Maldonaldo said it's a small church that a lot of older people attend.

"My family is very, very close to this church. They are their family," she said. 

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