FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A man who fatally beat a Fort Worth-area pastor tried to prevent officers from entering the church and continued the attack despite being ordered at gunpoint to stop, according to a police report obtained by a newspaper.
The Rev. Danny Kirk Sr., 53, died Oct. 29 after being beaten with an electric guitar at Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church in Forest Hill, a Fort Worth suburb. Police say Derrick Birdow, 33, drove his car into a church wall, then got out and began the attack.
“I ordered Birdow to drop the guitar and lay on the floor,” officer Donnie Chesnut wrote in a police report, which was obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram through an open records request. “Birdow did not comply but rather looked at me as he raised the guitar for another strike.”
Fearing for the pastor’s life, Chesnut began squeezing his gun’s trigger but then realized that another officer had used a stun gun on Birdow, the paper reported (http://bit.ly/YQMTR6). Birdow then fell to the floor, but he still refused to comply with orders to turn over and place his hands behind his back, and the officer used the stun gun two or three more times before Birdow could be handcuffed, the report said.
Birdow had to be carried by two officers and placed into the back of a patrol car after refusing to walk. But when medics checked on Birdow, he was not breathing and later was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The medical examiner has not yet released the cause and manner of Birdow’s death.
When officers arrived at the church, they found church janitor John Whitaker with a head wound and carrying a wooden board, and “he stated something about somebody going crazy and hitting him,” Chesnut wrote in the report.
Chesnut and the other officer were positioning themselves near the church’s north entrance when Birdow suddenly opened the door. Chesnut ordered Birdow out of the doorway, but he went back into the church and tried to close the door to prevent the officers from entering, the report stated. However, Chesnut, who had seen blood on Birdow’s hand, was able to get inside and run after him.
Birdow apparently was not a member of the church. His wife has said he had struggled with mental illness.
Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis has said that the investigation led by the Texas Rangers is continuing.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)