It was a beautiful Sunday in White Settlement, Texas. It was December 29, 2019, the first Sunday after Christmas celebrations; for patrons of the West Freeway Church of Christ, it was typical Sunday mass. The audience of worshippers was more than just the people of the church, folks who couldn’t go could hear the word of God at home with a livestream of the mass.
But for some in the church, something was off putting. A man with a fake beard and sunglasses had entered the church and was spotted by security. This man was then put on notice. Just before 11 AM the live stream showed this suspicious man stand up, pull out a two-gauge shotgun, and open fire on members of the church. The man fired two shots, killing two men, one of which was a security guard, the other was a devoted follower of the church; in those few seconds, fear and death became horrifyingly present in the church.
Unbeknownst to the gunman, however, security had been ramped up, trained, armed, and prepared for a situation like this. 71-year-old former reserve deputy sheriff Jack Wilson was ready to answer the call for help. In those six seconds, churchgoers drew weapons and ducked down. This gave a clear shot for Jack to shoot the man and evade any bystanders. With only one shot, one round, he put down the gunman before he could ever reload his weapon and harm any other churchgoers. He made sure the scene was safe, then police were notified. In six seconds, Jack Wilson and the security force saved hundreds of lives. Through quick thinking, wits, preparation, self-defense measures, and extra precautions, the massacre of a whole community was rescued from further trauma. The gunman was identified as 43 year-old Keith Thomas Kinnunen. Previous to the shooting, Kinnunen encountered law enforcement on a few occasions, with charges including arson, aggravated assault, illegal narcotic possession, as well as unlawful possession of a weapon. He was required to undergo a mental evaluation. The motive was most likely a suicide mission, as it was also the 10th anniversary of his brother’s suicide. Even though two men were dreadfully lost, hundreds were saved thanks to the life-saving precautions and security measures. A good lesson to learn is that casualties in these horrible tragedies can be reduced, even prevented, with self-defense measures, preparation, training, and situational awareness.