When gunfire erupted less than a week after Christmas at a rural Texas church, the violence quickly ripped two members of the congregation from this world.
Gunman Keith Thomas Kinnunen, a 43-year-old with a long criminal history, initially shot church deacon Anton Wallace and church security team member Richard White.
The gunshots were fatal for both men.
But before the bloodbath could take any more of the West Freeway Church of Christ’s flock numbering more than 250, an armed citizen stopped the chaos with a gun of his own.
Jack Wilson, head of the voluntary church security team, was able to end the attack with some well-placed shots.
His quick and decisive action was praised by law enforcement and politicians who were thankful that the armed man was able to foil a massacre against defenseless targets.
“Today, evil walked boldly among us,” Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said shortly after the December shooting. “Let me remind you, good people raised up and stopped it before it got worse.”
Wilson was also recognized by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who awarded the 71-year-old firearms instructor the state’s highest civilian honor: the Governor’s Medal of Courage.
Despite Wilson’s undeniably heroic actions, the legal question over his killing of another person remained.
Now, more than nine months after the shooting, a Tarrant County grand jury has decided that Wilson was justified in his actions that December day, according to KXAS-TV.
The Monday decision only further reinforced that Wilson acted within his legal rights during the firefight.
“Today the Grand Jury in Tarrant County reviewed information related to that shooting and made the decision to take no action,” Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office prosecutor Tim Rodgers said.
“Texas law allows an individual, when they witness somebody placing others at risk of serious bodily injury or death, to act with deadly force to protect the other individuals. Mr. Wilson did just that. He did it responsibly and, as a result, he was justified under the law in his actions.”
With no further law enforcement action needed or planned, it looks like this decision is final.
Wilson maintains that he is not a hero, and simply stopped an “evil threat” by killing the gunman.
Thankfully, Wilson’s expert use of firearms and willingness to jump into action ended what could have been a very deadly massacre. He is currently campaigning to become the Hood County Commissioner for Precinct 3.
With “soft” targets like churches increasingly taking defense into their own hands, expect future attacks against worshipers to end as the West Freeway Church of Christ shooting did.
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