West Freeway Church of Christ experienced a tragedy on December 29, 2019 when a gunman walked in with wicked intent. At the time this article was published, the best information available says that two congregants were killed in the shooting. The shooter was killed with a headshot Jack Wilson. The marksmanship, self-control, and rapid response by the church security team no doubt saved lives.
Sadly, there are many who will act as if the security team at West Freeway Church of Christ defending their beloved church from a deranged shooter is controversial. Indeed, Joe Biden spoke three months ago on the issue. Watch his statement in the embedded tweet below. Following Biden’s babbling is a video of the shooting at West Freeway Church of Christ. It is full of tragedy and violence, so do not watch this if you do not intend to use it to learn about defense. To simply ogle at death is wicked.
In the video above, we see Security Deacon Jack Wilson firing one round, striking the head of the shooter. Wilson seemed to fire almost instantly; indeed, the entire incident lasted approximately six seconds.
Wilson’s shot was difficult. If you have ever trained for defensive shooting scenarios, you’re aware that in a shooting situation you experience an extreme adrenaline rush. This happens in all combat situations. The Lord has made our bodies suck that our limbs become effective at blocking and striking. An unfortunate effect of this is that we lose much of our manual dexterity.
Everything Mr. Wilson experienced, from the adrenaline rush to the chaos of congregants moving in and out of his line of sight to fact that he was engaging a long weapon using his Sig P229 placed him at a severe disadvantage as he engaged the shooter. Psalm 144:1 comes to mind: “Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.”
Mr. Wilson is interviewed in the tweet embedded below:
What Can Our Churches in Tennessee Learn from This Shooting?
Advocates of gun free zones often claim that guns in churches, schools, movie theaters, etc., will lead to carnage. However, there was no carnage from crossfire at West Freeway Church of Christ. There was, however, carnage. The carnage that was – the carnage from a deranged shooter – was ended by a man of God protecting the congregation he worships with. There was no collateral damage. Mr. Wilson ended the threat with a single shot.
Your church needs a security plan.
The first thing your church should learn is that it needs a security plan. West Freeway Church of Christ survived the tragic shooting of December 29 with less loss of life than they might have otherwise experienced because they had a plan.
Your church should seriously consider working with a security expert to create its security plan.
If your church security team doesn’t train, it will not be able to execute its security plan.
Mr. Wilson clearly said in his video that the church security team put hours into training. Team members must regularly train with their weapons, so that you are capable of making difficult shots like Mr. Wilson. In fact, if team members are not fully qualified with their weapon, they simply should not carry one on behalf of your church.
Your congregation has to know its job if there is an attack.
The third thing your church should learn from this incident is that the congregation must know how to react in a shooting. If you have a security team and you’re in a room with security team members that is being assailed, the correct reaction is normally to hit the ground so that your security team has a clear line of fire. There are exceptions to this. That is why training is important.
Mr. Wilson mentioned in the above video that his shot was slightly delayed because of line of sight issues. That is unavoidable – the shooter was moving and the incident played out in six seconds. However, Mr. Wilson was ultimately able to shoot the attacker quickly, and that happened because congregants largely responded correctly by not hitting the deck.
If you’re a congregant and have a weapon with you, hitting the deck also means you’re less likely to be engaged by a security team. If you do find yourself drawing a weapon in a self-defense situation, you need to make sure to holster it as quickly as it is safe to do so to ensure you are not perceived as a threat.
Note: Two other deacons on the security team at West Freeway Church of Christ died as heroes. Our Lord spoke of men like this long ago in John 15.13 when he said: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Let us give thanks to God for these men, and let us ask Him for the strength to follow their example.