SASH, Texas – A gunman killed four people near a small-town church, then killed himself early Monday after a nine-hour standoff with police, authorities said.
Police said witnesses told them that A.P. Crenshaw (search), who lived across the street from the Sash Assembly of God church, exchanged words in the church parking lot Sunday night with church member Wes Brown (search), who asked Crenshaw to leave.
Crenshaw returned a short time later and shot Brown, 61, at close range, and then shot the pastor, James Armstrong (search), 42, the witnesses said. Deputies found both men dead in a grassy area next to the parking lot, Fannin County Sheriff Kenneth Moore said.
Crenshaw then drove to an intersection, where he shot at a truck towing a horse trailer and then killed the two women in the truck after they tried to flee and hide, witnesses told police.
"The witnesses said they could hear the women screaming," Moore said.
"We believe it was just random," Moore said of the women's slayings. "They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Police believe Crenshaw then returned home, pausing along the way to shoot at a house and cafe near the church but not hitting anyone.
A 10-member SWAT team made two attempts to enter Crenshaw's house but retreated when he shot at them, Moore said.
Police finally entered the house about 6 a.m. after firing tear gas inside. Crenshaw was found in a bedroom with a gunshot wound to head, Moore said. Police believe Crenshaw had shot himself about an hour earlier.
A shotgun, a rifle and ammunition were found in the house, Moore said. The guns apparently used in the shootings — a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol and a .38-caliber revolver — also were confiscated but Moore didn't specify where.
Grady Pior, who lives next door to Crenshaw, said he and his wife had called police a couple of times about Crenshaw's disruptive behavior. He said Crenshaw, whom he knew as Fred, would shout obscenities at them and fire a gun, but authorities never arrested him because he stayed within the bounds of his property.
He said he learned from church members that Crenshaw had left rambling, nonsensical notes on their cars and cursed and yelled at them then they left services.
Pior said he believes Crenshaw would have attacked him and his wife if they had been home at the time of the killings. He said he had started carrying a gun when he mowed his yard in case of a confrontation with Crenshaw.
"He's the only person in my life that I've had a strange feeling about," Pior said.
Sash is a community of 300 people about 120 miles north of Dallas, near the Oklahoma state line.