The 71-year-old former FBI agent who was dubbed a hero after stopping the gunman who opened fire at White Settlement’s West Freeway Church during mass has received the highest civilian award issued in Texas.
During the ceremony that took place in Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott branded Jack Wilson a hero as he honored him with the Medal of Courage.
Despite receiving the highest civilian award, Mr. Wilson remained humble and refused to be called a hero because he feels “more as a protector” who did what was necessary to prevent more people from dying on that tragic day.
“When events arise, you’re going to do one of two things. You’re either going to step up and do what’s right or walk away. And I’m not one to walk away,” he said at the Governor’s Mansion.
“Yes, I’ve been handed the moniker of a hero, and as I’ve stated a couple of times already, I feel more as a protector than I do a hero because I did lose two real good friends.”
During the emotional ceremony, the governor also opened up about the tragic loss of two lives and thanked “God for putting Jack Wilson in that church that day to bring the attack to an end.”
“Only God knows who is alive today because of Jack Wilson. What we do know is that so many lives were saved because of Jack Wilson’s quick action, his calmness under pressure and, above all else, his courage and his willingness to risk his own life to save the lives of others,” Mr. Abbott said.
“When faced with an evil that few of us could ever comprehend, Jack Wilson responded with strength, with bravery and with love for those in the church that day. That is the type of man Jack Wilson is.”
Previously, Mr. Wilson, who works as a security guard at West Freeway Church, revealed he doesn’t feel like he killed a human after sending a bullet to the head of Keith Thomas Kinnunen who opened fire and killed two during the mass.
“I don’t feel like I killed a human, I killed an evil and that’s how I’m coping with the situation,” the 71-year-old hero said in an interview with NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.
According to Mr. Wilson, he became suspicious of Kinnunen as soon as the attacker walked into the church due to his bizarre outfit including an oversized coat, a fake beard, a wig, and glasses.
After the attacker pulled out his gun and opened fire, it took Wilson just six seconds to fire a decisive headshot at Kinnunen and stop him from killing more innocent people.
“I was standing to Richard’s right about 6ft. He shot Richard [a member of Wilson’s security team] and shot Tony Wallace [parishioner], at that point I didn’t’ have a clear shot,” the former FBI agent told Fox as he recalled the church shooting.
“I finally got it about a second later. I took the shot, the shooter went down. I went over to cover, pulled the shotgun away from his body. Then other people in the church who are part of the security team came forward in case he tried to get up which he did not.”
As the 71-year-old claimed, the members of his security team kept their eyes on the shooter but couldn’t see him clearly until the attack commenced and he stepped forward.
“This type of scenario hopefully never happens. You train but hope you never have to go to that extreme. But if you do, your training will kick in,” Wilson added.
Following the interview with Fox, Wilson also spoke out during his appearance at NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and made it clear he had no regrets about his decision to pull the trigger.
“The events at West Freeway Church of Christ put me in a position that I would hope no one would have to be in, but evil exists and I had to take out an active shooter in church,” he said.
“I’m thankful to GOD that I have been blessed with the ability and desire to serve him in the role of head of security at the church.
“I am very sad in the loss of two dear friends and brothers in CHRIST, but evil does exist in this world and I and other members are not going to allow evil to succeed.”
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