FOREST HILL, Texas (AP) — A North Texas pastor was killed Monday by an attacker who rammed a car into a church wall, chased the pastor and beat him with an electric guitar, police said.
Police in Forest Hill, a suburb of Fort Worth, did not say why the unidentified suspect attacked the Rev. Danny Kirk Sr., the founding pastor of Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church.
The suspect also died a short time after being taken into custody.
Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis said the suspect drove his car into a church wall before noon Monday, apparently on purpose. The suspect got out of the car and began to attack the pastor in the parking lot before chasing him into the church, Dennis said. The church secretary hid and called 911, Dennis said.
Police arrived to find the suspect assaulting Kirk with an electric guitar that they believe was already inside the church, Dennis said. An officer used a Taser on the suspect, handcuffed him and put him in the back of a patrol car.
By then, Kirk had died, Dennis said. A maintenance worker who tried to help Kirk was injured and taken to an area hospital. His condition was unknown.
Dennis said the suspect was found unresponsive shortly after being detained and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Dennis said he didn't know if the suspect knew Kirk, attended the church or why he might have attacked the pastor.
Hours after the incident, hundreds of people remained outside the church, where crime-scene tape was wrapped around a small statue of Jesus near the wrecked car. Some hugged each other and cried, while others recalled Kirk as a dedicated minister who also had a bubbly personality and knew the all names of the several-hundred church members.
"He really was concerned about our souls," Montoya McNeil, a member for eight years, said as she wiped away tears. "You looked forward to being here. … I'm not asking God why, because I know where he (Kirk) is, but we won't get those big bear hugs and those great sermons anymore."
According to former Forest Hill mayor James Gosey, Kirk started the church years ago in a strip mall before building the red-brick church.
Kirk was also an unofficial volunteer chaplain who occasionally counseled members of a local high school football team, Fort Worth school district spokesman Clint Bond said.
"Our hearts are heavy right now," said Reginald Wilson, an associate minister at the church.