Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News
The wife of the man police say beat a Forest Hill pastor to death says she does not know why her husband attacked her pastor.
The wife of the man police say beat a Forest Hill pastor to death says her husband was mentally ill.
Police say Derrick Birdow, 33, killed Danny Kirk Sr. after ramming into Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church with his car.
Birdow died after police used a stun gun to subdue him.
"I am torn, because not only did I lose my pastor, I lost my husband," said Shanellia Harris Birdow, his wife.
Harris Birdow, an active member of Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church, said her husband did not know Kirk, although he had attended church there in the past.
She said that her husband, who had a lengthy criminal record, was mentally ill and had sought treatment last week at a Fort Worth hospital.
"He was sick," she said. "He was really sick. Even these last couple days, he was trying to get help, but he didn't get it."
She attended a vigil for Kirk on Tuesday night, unsure of how the congregation would react.
"I wanted them to know I didn't have anything to do with it," she said. "I don't know the reasons. I don't have answers to the questions that they have."
Candlelight Vigil Held for Slain Pastor
Church members and Kirk's family remembered the pastor at the candlelight vigil.
"Daddy, I am not going to do you wrong," said Danny Kirk Jr., the pastor's only son. "I am not going to bring shame to your name. You named me Danny Kirk Jr. for a reason."
He assured the congregation that he would take care of his mother and the church in his father's absence.
Danny Kirk Sr. had a daughter, Danielle, who died when she was just 3 years old. Church members say the family was still struggling with her death. His son said he takes great comfort in knowing his father and sister will now be together.
Forest Hill police say Birdow rammed his car into the front of the church on Monday afternoon before going inside and beating Kirk, the church founder, to death. A janitor trying to stop the assault was also injured, police said.
Barbara Moore, the church secretary, witnessed the attack and called 911. She told NBC 5 that she locked herself in her office while the men were fighting.
"I saw them tussling in the truck, and he was trying to subdue him and he couldn't," she said. "I ran and called 911."
Police said Birdow was still attacking Kirk and the janitor when officers arrived. Officers used a stun gun to restrain him, arrested him and placed him in a police car.
Officers found him unresponsive about 10 minutes later, police said.