Pastor Killed In Texas Church Attack Was Brother Of Local Sheriff

By: Paul J. Gately, Matt Howerton Email
By: Paul J. Gately, Matt Howerton Email

FOREST HILL (October 29, 2012)-A pastor who was beaten to death with a guitar at his suburban Fort Worth church was the brother of longtime Falls County Sheriff Ben Kirk, two Marlin pastors and the county's former sheriff Larry Pamplin confirmed Monday.

The incident happened at around 11:15 a.m. Monday at the Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church in Forest Hill.

Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis identified the pastor as Danny Kirk, Sr. and said he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The second victim escaped serious injury, according to media reports.

Dennis said officers arrived at the church to find the attack in progress.

Officers used a Taser to subdue the attacker, who stopped breathing while in the back of a patrol car and died at a hospital.

The man was identified as Derek Birdow, 33, WFAA-TV reported.

Police declined to speculate on a motive for the attack.

Birdlow's cousin told WFAA that Birdlow's children attend the church, but said he didn't know of any conflict between Birdlow and Kirk.

Kirk grew up in Marlin and graduated from Marlin High School. Many in Marlin are mourning his death, including longtime friend Noah Williams.

"It's insane that would even happen to him," Williams said.

"He was a great citizen and really had a wonderful personality. I know words don't help much, but my prayers go out to Ben and his family."

After the incident, part of the attacker's car remained inside the building while hundreds of church members and other community members gathered outside, hugging and crying.

Forest Hill's former mayor said Kirk started the church years ago.

He was also an unofficial volunteer chaplain who occasionally counseled members of a local high school football team.

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