Bullet holes and a broken window: First look inside Starrville Methodist Church after pastor’s murder

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WINONA, Texas (KETK) – A member of the Starrville Methodist Church in Winona revealed Monday that his pickup truck was stolen by the man suspected of murdering pastor Mark McWilliams.

Vic Little’s story offers new insight into the moments after the shooting, when the accused killer, 21-year-old Myrtez Woolen, escaped and led law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase. On Sunday, Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith told reporters that the stolen pickup belonged to McWilliams.

On Monday, Little and other members of Starrville Methodist gathered in front of the church and walked inside, still trying to process why someone would commit such a terrible act.

Since the crime scene, yellow tape has now been removed, people were able to see first-hand the damage done to the church.

Bullet holes in the walls can be seen, where the intruder took multiple shots at other church members. Glass on a window, still broken, where Woolen allegedly broke into the sanctuary.

Woolen, of Arlington, was arrested Sunday in Marshall and charged with capital murder.

Recent mugshot of Myrtez Woolen from Smith County Judicial

He was originally wanted in connection with a drive-by shooting that took place Saturday night in Tyler. He was later spotted in a dark-colored Volkswagon Jetta in the Lindale area and had a shotgun sticking out of the sunroof, which led to a chase.

Woolen fled east on I-20 and wrecked the car in front of Starrville Methodist Church property. He then ran into the woods behind the church leaving the shotgun behind.

“After several hours, the search area was expanded as it was felt that the suspect had escaped the perimeter,” Smith said during the Sunday night news conference.

Smith County authorities and DPS troopers carried out a large search that used drones and search dogs but were unable to find him, Smith said.

Smith said that sometime after law officers left the area in early Sunday morning, Woolen was able to get inside the church by allegedly breaking out a window.

Shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday, before services began, McWilliams came across Woolen who was trying to hide in the back area of the church. Smith said McWilliams drew a pistol on Woolen but allegedly Woolen was able to get his pistol and shoot the pastor.

Congregation members said the second person shot was Mike Seller. Seller was hit by a bullet in the shoulder and is in a Tyler hospital. Seller’s injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.

Woolen also shot at the pastor’s wife, Rosemary, but the bullet did not hit her, the sheriff said.

McWilliams’ wife was injured when she fell and hurt her shoulder.

Smith said McWilliams’ wife called 911.

After the shootings, the suspect took a 2018 GMC truck that belonged to Little. DPS troopers and other law officers eventually caught up to and started following the truck as it headed to Marshall. OnStar was notified and disabled the truck, leading to Woolen’s arrest in Marshall, Smith said.

During the arrest, Woolen’s hand was injured.

Law officers take Woolen in custody in Harrison County.

Woolen was placed in Smith County Jail charged with multiple crimes including capital murder. His bonds total $3.5 million.

Congregation members are struggling to make sense of what happened. “Someone broke our family up.” she said. “It’s not fair. … We are all heartbroken. This has been devastating to us.”

Church member Tom Pritchard, who lives near the church, described the congregation as “a super good church. Everyone was just really good friends. We just enjoyed getting together and talking and praising the Lord and being together.”

Congregation member David Barber said he went to the hospital when he learned that his friend, Seller, was injured.

“As soon as I heard about it (the shootings) I was sick in my stomach,” Barber said. “And I immediately got up and left and went directly to the hospital as soon as I found out.”

“I was devastated, totally devastated. I couldn’t even cry I was that upset and I think a lot of times that happens to people when you’re so upset that you can’t do anything,” said Patti Brady of the Starrville Methodist Church congregation.

Starrville Methodist Church

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