Texas grand jury clears volunteer security member who took down church gunman

Southwest

FORT WORTH, Texas (NewsNation Now) — A grand jury in Texas decided Monday to take no action against a man who fatally shot an armed man who killed two people at a Fort Worth-area church in late December, prosecutors said.

Jack Wilson, a firearms instructor who trained a volunteer security team at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, fatally shot Keith Thomas Kinnunen during a Dec. 29 service after he shot and killed 67-year-old Richard White, another security volunteer, and 64-year-old Anton “Tony” Wallace, a communion server.

Wilson, a deacon at the church, was in charge of security and training volunteer security members. As the attacker shot the two men, congregants scrambled for cover. The gunman was heading to the front of the sanctuary as Wilson searched for a clear line of fire. His single shot quickly ended the attack.

“The whole time, from the time he turned and stood until it was over was less than six seconds… between four to six seconds from start to finish, from the time he got up and turned with the gun ’til he was down,” Wilson said in an interview Dec. 30, 2019 with NewsNation affiliate KETK.

“That was my one shot,” said Wilson. “When I teach people I teach them… If that’s the only shot you have, that’s the shot you take.”

Prosecutors said there were about 260 people in the church at the time.

Tim Rodgers, a prosecutor with the Tarrant County district attorney’s office, said Monday that Texas law allows a person witnessing someone placing others at risk of serious injury or death to act with deadly force to protect others.

“Mr. Wilson did just that. He did it responsibly and, as a result, he was justified under the law in his actions,” Rodgers said. “Based upon the grand jury’s decision, the law enforcement investigation and our review of the case are complete. We believe the grand jury made the right decision.”

Wilson and the volunteer security team were worried from the start by Kinnunen’s presence at the service.

“We were aware and there were concerns,” said Wilson. “Instinct, I guess, is the best way I know to put it. There was concern that he was a possible threat.”

“Flags went up, (the) individual was wearing a long coat, fake beard and a fake wig and a toboggan,” Wilson described the gunman. “At that point, (I) made the security team members aware that we need to pay a little bit more attention to this individual, went into the audiovisual (booth) and had them turn a camera specifically on him… where they could actually watch him.”

“Had we not had the security team in place, in my opinion, it would have been a much more severe outcome than what happened,” he said.

After the shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott gave Wilson Texas’ highest civilian honor: the Governor’s Medal of Courage.

“You have to be of the mindset that if you produce it, in other words, if you show it or you actually draw it out of the holster, if it doesn’t stop the threat that you’re willing to pull the trigger on another human being,” advised Wilson about owning a gun. “If you’re not of that mindset you don’t need to be carrying a firearm.”

Wilson described the church as a “close-knit congregation” and the two men who perished were close friends. Along with recommending safety, the firearms instructor recommends that gun owners “practice, practice, practice.”

“You don’t know when something bad is going to happen or where it’s going to happen. So what I tell my students, not just on the security team but just the regular students that are getting a license to carry is you carry it anywhere and everywhere you legally can because you never know when you’re going to have to use it because you don’t have that insight,” added Wilson.

NewsNation affiliate KETK contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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