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Hero parishioner, 71, who gunned down an active shooter will receive the state’s highest honor

A Texas man who courageously shot an active gunman who killed two people at a church last month is expected to received the state’s highest civilian honor. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed that he will present Jack Wilson, 71, with the Medal of Courage on Monday. 

‘I will present the Governor’s Medal of Courage to the man who stopped a gunman in a deadly shooting at a church in North Texas. It is the highest award given to civilians by the Governor,’ Abbot wrote on Twitter. 

Wilson, a former reserve deputy sheriff and the head of the church’s security team, became a hero after stopping a gunman Keith Thomas Kinnunen at the West Freeway Church of Christ in Fort Worth, on December 29.  

Jack Wilson (pictured) will received the Medal of Courage, Texas' highest civilian honor, on Monday for shooting an active gunmen at a church

Jack Wilson (pictured) will received the Medal of Courage, Texas’ highest civilian honor, on Monday for shooting an active gunmen at a church 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed he will present the honor to Wilson, saying the man 'stopped a gunman in a deadly shooting at a church in North Texas'

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed he will present the honor to Wilson, saying the man ‘stopped a gunman in a deadly shooting at a church in North Texas’ 

Wilson said that he and the others in his team were suspicious of Kinnunen when he first arrived at the church because he was wearing a long coat, a fake beard, glasses and wig.   

When Kinnunen drew his gun – a shotgun he had been hiding beneath his coat – the security guards drew theirs.

Kinnunen was able to fatally wound Richard White, 67, and Anton ‘Tony’ Wallace, 64, before Wilson took him out with a single shot to the head.

Wilson then marched over to his body and stood over it, kicking his gun away to ensure he would not get up to try to start firing again in the off-chance he had survived.

Wilson took Kinnunen out in just six seconds. 

While the shots were being fired, people ducked under church pews as a church leader tried to calm people down

While the shots were being fired, people ducked under church pews as a church leader tried to calm people down

Pictured: Keith Thomas Kinnunen, the man who shot two people during an attack at West Freeway Church of Christ last month

Pictured: Keith Thomas Kinnunen, the man who shot two people during an attack at West Freeway Church of Christ last month

In an interview with Fox on Monday, Wilson described how the entire incident unfolded in just six seconds.

He later said he did not feel as though he had taken another life because Kinnunen was ‘evil’ and not human. 

‘I was standing to Richard’s right about 6ft. He shot Richard and shot Tony Wallace, at that point I didn’t have a clear shot.

‘I finally got it about a second later. I took the shot, the shooter went down. I went over to cover, pulled the shotgun away from his body. Then other people in the church who are part of the security team came forward in case he tried to get up, which he did not,’ he said.

Wilson said he and other members of the security team were suspicious of him from when he first arrived at the church, dressed strangely and having never been there before.

Pictured: Richard White

Pictured: Anton 'Tony' Wallace

Richard White, 67, (left) and Anton ‘Tony’ Wallace, 64, (right) were killed by Kinnunen on December 29 

‘He had on a fake beard and a fake wig and was wearing a long coat. From where I was standing I could see his right hand at all times, but could not see his left hand.

‘From the moment he walked in the door we had eyes on him. Physical eyes and cameras.

‘Apparently with the shotgun he had which was a short barrel, a legal firearm, he had it evidently in his pocket, and underneath his armpit. I know he discharged two rounds, possibly a third, as he was going down – after he shot Richard and Tony – he went and started towards the front of the sanctuary and that’s when I was able to engage,’ he said.

White was able to fire one shot before he was taken down, but it hit the wall.

Kinnunen (pictured) was allegedly wearing a  long coat, a fake beard, glasses and wig when he arrived at the church

Kinnunen (pictured) was allegedly wearing a  long coat, a fake beard, glasses and wig when he arrived at the church 

‘This type of scenario hopefully never happens.

‘You train but hope you never have to go to that extreme. But if you do, your training will kick in,’ he said.

Wilson said he had to pause for a second to get a clear shot after Kinnunen started firing as ‘chaos’ erupted and parishioners ran for their lives.

‘There were people in front of me between the shooter and myself. I had to just wait a second. The whole thing was less than six seconds from start to finish,’ he said.

He added there was ‘no verbal communication whatsoever’ between him and the shooter, and that he was ‘bleeding profusely’ from his head afterwards. 

‘The only movement was body twitching which happens when someone is in that condition about to die.

‘I only fired one round which was a headshot,’ he said.

He told NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt separately that he did not feel as though he’d taken a human life.

‘I don’t feel like I killed a human, I killed an evil and that’s how I’m coping with the situation,’ he said.

Wilson: 'I don’t feel like I killed a human, I killed an evil and that’s how I’m coping with the situation'

Wilson: ‘I don’t feel like I killed a human, I killed an evil and that’s how I’m coping with the situation’ 

Wilson, a father, grandfather and local politician, said on Facebook afterwards that he felt blessed to have been able to protect the congregation.

‘I just want to thank all who have sent their prayers and comments on the events of today.

‘The events at West Freeway Church of Christ put me in a position that I would hope no one would have to be in, but evil exist and I had to take out an active shooter in church.

Wilson, 70, is running for County Commissioner. He said he was 'blessed with the ability' to protect the other parishioners

Wilson, 70, is running for County Commissioner. He said he was ‘blessed with the ability’ to protect the other parishioners 

‘I’m thankful to GOD that I have been blessed with the ability and desire to serve him in the role of head of security at the church.

‘I am very sad in the loss of two dear friends and brothers in CHRIST, but evil does exist in this world and I and other members are not going to allow evil to succeed.

‘Please pray for all the members and their families in this time.

Thank you for your prayers and understanding.’

Kinnunen was ‘relatively transient’, but had some connections in the area. 

His sister said Kinnunen, 43, had been denied money by the West Freeway Church of Christ after receiving food from the ministry on several occasions before the attack. 

His ex-wives described the gunman as mentally ill and violent, with one noting: ‘Keith is a violent, paranoid person with a long line of assault and batteries with and without firearms. He is a religious fanatic, says he’s battling a demon … He is not nice to anyone.’ 



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