Authorities in Texas are investigating why a suspect in Forest Hill allegedly crashed his car into a church, chased down the pastor and then beat him to death with an electric guitar.
Members of the Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church identified Derrick Birdow as the man who is accused of killing 53-year-old Rev. Danny Kirk and beating the church’s janitor, 59-year-old John Whitaker, on Tuesday, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Forest Hill Police Chief Dan Dennis told the paper the the suspect apparently fought Kirk outside the church before chasing him into the church and beating him with an electric guitar. Officers responding to a 911 call from the church secretary were forced to use a Taser to subdue the attacker. He was later found unresponsive in the patrol car and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Whitaker recalled to WFAA that he was cleaning inside the church when he heard the car crash and attempted to save the pastor’s life but the attacker was “crazy, super strong.”
“I heard a big bang, and I didn’t know what it was,” Whitaker said. “The motor revved up, and when the dust cleared, I saw Pastor Kirk on the hood of the car.”
“I hit the man upside the head and it didn’t faze him,” he continued. “I went and got a 2-by-2 [piece of lumber] and hit him again, more than once, and that didn’t faze that man. He was crazy. He was super strong… Something was wrong with that man.”
At some point Kirk got away and ran inside the church with Birdow allegedly in pursuit. Whitaker said that he also followed.
“I got blindsided,” he explained. “When I rounded the corner, he hit me upside the head with a guitar… twice. I was dazed, but I hit him again when I saw he was hitting pastor.”
Christopher Henderson, one of the suspect’s cousins, told the Morning News that Birdlow had been behaving strangely and claiming that people were trying to kill him.
“He’s been having some issues, and he hasn’t been himself,” Henderson remarked. “This past week, he’s been going through some stuff.”
While his cousin described him as a “happy dude,” KSAX reported that Birdlow had a criminal record, including possession of a controlled substance, domestic assault, driving while intoxicated and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Watch this video from WFAA, broadcast Oct. 30, 2012.