Fred Winters, the pastor of the First Baptist Church, was shot and killed during the 8 a.m. service, and the attacker and two parishioners suffered knife wounds in the attack, authorities said.
The gunman entered during the service and walked up to the pulpit.
Winters and the gunman apparently exchanged words before the 27-year-old man fired four shots, hitting the pastor’s Bible and then the pastor, said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent.
“The only thing we know is that the suspect said something to the pastor and the pastor said something back to him — we don’t know what that was,” Trent told reporters Sunday afternoon. “It was almost as if the pastor may have recognized him, but we’re not sure about that at all.”
The gunman’s .45-caliber pistol jammed after he shot Winters, Trent said. The man then pulled out a knife before being tackled by some of the approximately 150 worshippers attending the service in southern Illinois, near St. Louis, Missouri.
Earlier reports from authorities said the man may have turned the knife on himself, but Trent said that was not confirmed.
“When he was tackled by two of the members, we don’t know whether he fell on the knife, injuring himself at the time, or whether [his injury] was self-inflicted during the struggle,” Trent said.
Two of those who went after the attacker suffered non-life-threatening injuries, while the suspect’s injuries are “very serious,” Illinois state police spokesman Ralph Timmins said.