Monday morning news: December 30, 2019

Church shooting in Texas » Armed members of a church near Fort Worth, Texas, stopped what might have become a mass shooting Sunday morning.

A live web stream of the service at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement captured the violence as it unfolded. The video shows a gunman wearing a long coat sitting on the left side of the sanctuary. During the sermon he stood up and pulled out a shotgun. He fired twice before church members took action.

White Settlement Police Chief J.P. Bevering called them heroes.

BEVERING: A couple members of the church returned fire, striking the suspect, who died at the scene. Tragically, the person shot by the suspect died at a local hospital. And a second parishioner has life-threatening injuries.

A spokesman for the Fort Worth Police Department called it a tragic day.

DRIVDAHL: Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families that were affected by this incident. We will continue to pray for them and continue to do everything we can for them. As far as the shooter, the motive and everything like that, we don’t have that at this time.

A church elder who spoke to The New York Times said he did not recognize the gunman and that the shooting appeared random.

Stabbing at Hanukkah celebration in New York » Meanwhile in New York, prosecutors have charged a 37-year-old man with five counts of attempted murder after he barged into a rabbi’s home and began stabbing people. The machete attack happened on Saturday—the seventh night of Hanukkah.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said it was the 13th anti-Semitic attack in the state since December 8th.

CUOMO: This is violence spurred by hate. It is mass violence. And I consider this an act of domestic terrorism.

Police say they do not know what motivated the attack or why the man targeted that particular house in the Orthodox Jewish community of Monsey. A witness who saw the attacker flee wrote down his car’s license plate number. Police quickly tracked him down in Manhattan and arrested him.

Truck bomb kills 79 in Somalia » AUDIO: [Sound of Somalian siren]

At least 79 people are dead in Somalia after a Saturday morning bombing at a busy intersection in Mogadishu. A truck filled with explosives detonated at a busy checkpoint during rush-hour.

At least 125 people suffered injuries. A military transport plane flew some of the most severely wounded to Turkey for treatment.

Many of those killed were students returning to class after the holiday break. Government officials quickly blamed Islamic terror group al-Shabaab—though it has not claimed responsibility. Al-Shabaab was also blamed for a similar attack in 2017. It killed more than 500.

KHAIRE: [Speaking Somali]

In a video address to the nation, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire pledged assistance to those affected. He added that terrorists will not undermine civilian morale.

Taliban agrees to a cease-fire in Afghanistan » The Taliban’s ruling council has agreed to a temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan. That could pave the way for a peace deal to end America’s longest-running military conflict.

U.S. officials had demanded a cease-fire before any peace deal could be signed. An agreement seemed close in September, but an increase in Taliban attacks put an end to negotiations. Talks resumed in late November after President Trump made a surprise visit to the country.

Once a peace deal is in place, Afghans on both sides of the long-running conflict will have to figure out how to structure a new government. But first, they’ll have to reach a deal to end the fighting between Taliban and government forces.

New Russian weapon can travel 27 times the speed of sound » AUDIO: [Sound of Russian missile launching] Russia has a new weapon system the government claims will render existing missile defenses “useless.” As of Friday, the hypersonic missile system is now in service. 

The intercontinental weapon can fly 27 times the speed of sound and make sharp maneuvers en route to its target. It greatly increases the country’s nuclear strike capability. 

PUTIN: [Speaking Russian]

President Vladimir Putin recently compared the hypersonic missile program to the 1957 launch of Sputnik. He said Russia is not only “catching up” but surpassing all other nations. No one else has hypersonic capabilities—though China and the United States are working on it. 

The Pentagon announced this fall that it’s still a few years away from a working weapon.

Chinese court puts Early Rain pastor on trial » A well-known Chinese pastor spent the day after Christmas in court.

The Chinese government confirmed over the weekend that Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church was tried in Chengdu on Thursday. 

None of his family or church members were invited to the proceeding. According to one witness, plainclothes police officers surrounded the court, and only government appointed lawyers were allowed in the trial. The verdict has not been made public.

Authorities arrested the pastor a little over a year ago on a charge of “inciting subversion.” He faced a charge this summer of “illegal business activity.” Wang is a former legal scholar and outspoken critic of China’s persecution of Christians. Before Wang’s arrest, Early Rain was one of China’s most influential house churches.

(Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News via AP) A person stands near the scene of a church shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in White Settlement, Texas. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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