WHITE SETTLEMENT, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s been two months since evil showed up at Sunday service in White Settlement at West Freeway Church of Christ.
It was a moment no one saw coming, but the church and its members had planned for it.
As I began to settle in for a lengthy interview with Minister Britt Farmer, his wife Lisa and church member Glenda White, I was admittedly expecting there would be anguish and resentment over what had unfolded back on December 29, 2019.
But one of my first questions opened my eyes to something I didn’t expect.
I asked Glenda White if she was angry. Angry that her husband was one of the two men who were killed that day so viciously.
“I’m not angry. I never hit angry,” she said.
In my head, I wondered just how that could be. What heart it must take not to have anger about what was done to the love of your life and by association, you.
But White assured me in her heart she had not harbored anger.
Regret about losing her husband, Richard? Absolutely. Devastated.
As we talked, just out side of the still locked worship area where it all happened, she told me she had not been back inside since that awful day.
Minister Britt Farmer said he was inside overseeing the beginning of the renovation and then during our interview, White decided it was time.
The worship area where the shooting happened remains sealed off since the shooting.
This is the first time Glenda White is seeing the very spot her husband died trying to defend everyone in the room.
It’s her first time seeing where the bullet holes in the walls have been patched.
But what can’t be covered up is the fact this is the last place White saw her husband and it’s where she heard the last words he would ever speak.
As she sat in the pew toward the front, in the center section, she heard Richard yell, “Drop it.”
We know now he was shouting those words to the shooter.
White said as she stood and turned after hearing her husband’s voice, she heard the shot, but never saw him.
In those first few chaotic moments, she didn’t know he’d been hit.
Richard was a member of the church’s Armed Shepherd Security Team.
As he stood up from his chair and began to reach for his concealed weapon, the shooter took direct aim and fired.
The gunman then turned and fired on church Deacon Tony Wallace.
Minister Farmer said police and paramedics arrived fast.
“It was two minutes until police arrived. It was four minutes until EMT’s arrive,” he said.
Minister Farmer said it felt like much longer.
Two good men killed in a matter of seconds, by a man Minister Farmer, his wife Lisa and Glenda White have all chosen to forgive.
“That man was somebody’s son, somebody’s brother, cousin, grandson, husband, dad. I didn’t know. I knew that he was troubled,” said Minister Farmer.
The lobby where we conducted the interview was the center of chaos and confusion the day the shooting happened, but now, it’s a place of comfort for those who visit West Freeway Church of Christ.
Filled with cards, letters and banners full of messages of hope, strength and faith.
Until the full renovation is completed, services are being held across the hall and every Sunday service since that day, includes meeting with crisis grief counselors.
“Oh, it’s making a big difference,” said White. “A lot of the things you go through, feelings, you don’t know if it’s real or not.”
The way the shooter was dressed that day, in a disguise and along coat, has left two lasting impressions.
White says she still sees his face in her sleep, in dark spaces and at night.
The shooter passed through the door that she was holding open for church members the morning of the shooting.
He passed right by her and looked her in the eyes. It’s an image she can’t shake.
The other lasting impression is the effect it has had on the church’s already robust security plan, which for years has included cameras, monitors and those armed shepherds.
“We still believe this is a very safe place, but we meet people at the door. We say, would you mind opening up your coat or opening up your large bag,” said Minister Farmer.
They’ve upgraded an already good security plan, but even so, there are still some who were here on that day who have not returned.
The minister said they simply can’t yet. Everyone heals on their own time, but knowing so many others are thinking of them helps.
All the cards and letters in the lobby give messages of hope every time anyone walks in.
But for the congregation of this church, it’s their faith and for some, forgiveness. That has shined the brightest light out of their darkest day. Perhaps no darker than for the family of Tony Wallace and Richard White’s wife and now widow, Glenda.
“I’ve got to get my life back. I can’t keep being scared. I’ve got to get a handle on this. It’s just one step in front of the other,” she said.
The man who ended up killing the shooter, Jack Wilson, did not respond to our request to be part of this interview, but the three who did all said it’s Wilson’s willingness to serve as the church’s Security Operations Chief, that kept even more tragedy from happening on December 29.
The former law enforcement officer implemented the Armed Shepherds Program four years ago. He continues to oversee training for armed shepherds at the church to this day.
They firmly believe that if it were not for the quick actions and response of their entire team, their loss could have been far greater.