PO Box 62131, Colorado Springs, CO 80962

West Freeway Church of Christ AKE (Active Killer Event)

I was in White Settlement, Texas on Tuesday after the attack at West Freeway Church of Christ on Sunday 12/29/19.

This is only the 2nd time a church killer was stopped this way. There have been church killers stopped by responding law-enforcement. There have been some stopped by congregants, or off-duty officers not part of any intentional team. Some have been stopped before they killed by intentional teams.

New Life Church, on 12/9/2007, was the only time an intentional team of civilian volunteers stopped a killer after they had already killed at the church. It happened again on 12/29/2019 at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, TX. They have now joined the club nobody wants to be in.

It never goes down as we would have written it.

While not the first volunteer faith-based security operator to be killed in their service, this is the first time one was killed in a 2-way gun battle in the sanctuary. From the moment the shotgun was pulled to the 1st killing shot was 3.6 seconds.

This will go down in history as a vivid look at what happened and exactly how it happened. That 51 seconds of video has been and will be cussed and discussed in many circles for many years. In the first 20 seconds we see a church transition from an obscure normal service to the first steps of a public lifetime of recovery.

The two security volunteers most directly involved were model profiles of typical faith-based security operators.

Richard White (the volunteer killed while drawing his weapon) was 67 years old. He was a sales manager for a chemical tank head company who served his church when he could. He was the pastor’s best friend.

Jack Wilson who drew a model 229 SIG, chambered in .357 SIG (as currently reported), and stopped the killer; is 71 years old. While he had been a reserve county Sheriff’s deputy for 6 years in the early 1980’s, he was primarily a small business owner. Among unrelated entrepreneurial endeavors, he ran a firearms training operation for many years.

 

Think about it

Every one of us has a process time between recognizing peril and stopping it. Would my process time be .036, .36 or 3.6 seconds? What will yours be?

Richard Smith’s death was not in vain; he died not only that others may live, but that they may learn.

Comments (14)

I have watched that video dozens of times now. There is so much to learn from it! Watch it repeatedly and focus on different areas and players.
I don’t want to be rude or presumptuous in second guessing the actions of the security personnel but Some questions / thoughts that come to my mind that with consideration may prove useful to others in the future.
1. I’ve read that the perpetrator was obviously wearing a wig and or fake beard. If this is true it would have been a good idea to approach him in the foyer before allowing him in the sanctuary. Someone obviously wearing a costume or disguise should get our attention and be scrutinized.
2. Should the man closest to him; Anton Wallace, (or any of us in a similar situation) have imediatly engaged him physically as soon as he produced the weapon? Would it have made a difference?
3. Sometimes Not Acting is the best course of action. In the heat of that moment when a weapon had been produced I imaging that the instinctive reaction is to draw your own and it appears that that is what Richard White was doing. But as I watch the video it appears to me that his exposing his weapon and attempting to draw it was the catalyst for the first shot. Maybe a slower, de-escalation tactic would have been a better response especially when already facing the business end of a leveled shotgun.
Again, I mean no disrespect to these men and the decisions they made. They gave their lives in service to God and the shepherds flock. But in their sacrifice and the video of it; we who remain are given the opportunity to learn how to protect others even better moving forward. We always need to pray for wisdom and discernment.
God bless these awesome sheepdogs who no doubt now stand their post at heavens gate. May we who remain on guard learn from their bravery and sacrifice in the face of sudden evil.

All good topics for discussion with your team and pastor.

Many many lessons to be learned from this incident, but the strongest lesson to be learned is that the Lord provides protection, strength, and healing during difficult situations such as this. My prayers are with the church for God’s grace to be abundantly bestowed upon that church in the coming days.

This perp should have been stopped at the doors of the church……..Rings of defense for the security team around the church starting with the parking lots, second ring being control at the church doors, then interior……..This perp compromised the first two rings of defense of the church………..Still not knowing the details, but it appears in the video, the security guys were beginning to be drawn to that corner , because of this guys appearance & mannerism ……..too late, the devil was among them!…

Please see my response later to Jeff Rush.

We had a similar discussion this morning with some of our team. My question (echoing more our pastor than necessarily me) was do we – can we – should we – stop a DRT from worshiping?

Or, as apparently happened at West Freeway, we see a DRT and we simply watch them. Prepared for the worst, hoping for the best.

Our pastor generally gets security and the need therefore. He would, however, be adamantly opposed of forbidding someone to enter worship without a stronger rationale than DRT.

Not sure what “DRT” is. The two “DRT’s” I am familiar with are “Dead Right There” and “Disaster Response Team.” Neither of those seem to match your narrative.

If you are talking about a “DLR” (Don’t Look Right), yes there are sliding scales of a DLR that are managed different by different pastors. Some would let anyone in, clothes or none etc. Others would draw their line somewhere far less offensive than totally nude, but that line goes all over the spectrum based on the individual church leadership. It is a good discussion to have — every team has some threshold of a DLR that they would watch closely and some threshold that would not be allowed inside. This is a good ice-breaker into having that discussion with your leadership — what is the line? Would the TX killer been above or below your specific church tolerance for allowing in?

Good question about who you let in. At our service this morning we had a small incident with a guy who’s come a couple times in the past week. Started with our homeless / recovery ministry last Monday where he was “a little off” but we expect that. Tuesday evening New Year’s Eve service he got a little verbally disruptive, talking loud during speaker. I asked him to please keep his voice down. His reaction was “I’ve got something to say. The people need to hear it.” One of our other guys who had a better relationship with him got him to quiet down. Then today he showed up for church. Our general position on that is “hallelujah” he’s a sinner in need of Jesus. We welcomed him but it came as no surprise when during the sermon he again started with the loud verbalizations. Another of our deacons ‘told’ him keep it down and his reaction was “don’t tell me what to do!” At that point he gathered his things and left if his own accord but was verbally abusive and threatening as he did so. Unfortunately it was at a point where I made the decision to tell him he was no longer welcome and gave him a verbal “no trespass” order.
We welcome all in our church and extend the same grace that God has shown each of us, but there comes a time when wisdom says enough. This guy brought to that point after just a few visits. We gathered and prayed for him afterwards. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

Good discussion.
When I first heard the news and some sketchy details that Sunday, decided to wait about 24 hours before reading any more. As we know, the first media reports are…well, not the best. Considering this situation, I wanted to know facts, not speculation. Some reflections, after watching the video 5-10 times, and with the deepest respect for all the sheepdogs involved, keeping in mind I am a little more hyper-vigilant than most:
1. I first read the killer was in a wig and beard. DLR. Then, I saw the duster he wore. Double DLR. I understand getting through the parking lot (a little too well), but not beyond the lobby. Not sure what the laws are everywhere, but with that getup, I would have wanted to frisk the guy with a very wary backup in place. At least have a VERY serious chat in the lobby until I am real sure what is under that duster. Otherwise, no way getting any further.
2. Once in the sanctuary, it went about as well as it was going to go. The reality is that when you are first in line…well…it is what it is. We all know that. I hope.
3. Response time – wow. Better to lunge or pull your weapon? I don’t know. What was the distance? Lunge time vs. pull time? That is one we would all have to consider – and train for, over and over. It has to be automatic, no time for thinking.
4. Jack Wilson – very impressive. Cool, calm. One shot. Follows up cautiously.
5. Pastor hit the deck. Looks to me like the training kicked in.
6. Congregation – always a variable (nice way of saying you have no idea how they are going to react), but looked ok. You bet folks are gonna hightail it outta there.
7. Rest of the team – looks like they followed their training. Isolated the killer, evacuated folks, etc.

At some point, when they are ready, I hope the team there can debrief – with experts. For their own sakes and so we all can learn.

6 seconds.
And now, the rest of their lives. That is what recovery will take. That is the cold, hard truth. Plus, that’s a lot of traumatized folks who have seen and heard stuff no one should ever see. I call it “the club no one wants to join” and to be honest, you simply can’t know what it is like. Nor would I want you to. I wish I could tell you the Church is good at this trauma stuff, but they are not. That’s kinda strange, isn’t it? considering we follow a traumatized Savior? Lord, have mercy, indeed!

Wow David, this means so much coming from you. Your story is what made so many across this country be ready. We are honored that you dropped in and left us your views. Every sheepdog loves you and Marie. May God bless your family.

As has been mentioned by several people in different forums, there are rings of security that have to be observed and infringements in those rings by DLR individuals should be acted upon at the furthest point away from the sanctuary. Better to have a firefight in the parking lot than in the sanctuary. But that’s a separate discussion.
We’re all going to be Monday morning quarterbacks to some extent so let me throw in my two cents. If the individual in question was under observation, wouldn’t it have prudent to have Security Team members closer? I’ve had many church security people tell me that, if someone was questionable, they would have a team member go in and sit right beside the guy. Any movement out of the ordinary would be detected immediately. As it was, the team members were behind this individual allowing him the opportunity to stand turn around, present his shotgun and fire. What was happening couldn’t have been apparent to those positioned behind him until it was too late. And having someone sitting right next to him may have proven to be a deterrent.
Each time I’ve watched the video something else comes to mind that I need to consider in the way our security team behaves. It’s too bad it takes a horrific event like this to show us ways to improve our own security.

You have some applicable observations but just know, if “it” goes down in your church it will not go down like you would have written it. While we can all learn it, they lived it. Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

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