On Sunday morning, David George, pastor of the Assembly of God Church in Oakville, Wash., delivered his sermon as he does every Sunday. The subject, on Father’s Day, was “The Value of MENtoring,” about how much difference a person can make in the lives of others.
He concluded with a passionate prayer: “Lord,” he said to his congregation in the town of about 700 people, “don’t let us be content as men to just let life go by, to see the world around us burn. God, instead, help us to get involved.”
A few hours later, George, 46, drove about 27 miles with his wife, daughter and granddaughter to a Walmart in Tumwater to make an exchange. While they were in a checkout line to buy additional items, George heard loud bangs from the back of the store. He knew immediately that they were gunshots.
As witnesses and police would later report, a crime rampage was unfolding. A man was firing a handgun at the store’s locked ammunition case to grab more bullets. He had already carjacked a vehicle that day and attempted to hijack another one, firing shots and wounding people along the way, Tumwater police say. Now he was stocking up on ammunition.
As customers fled in fear, the shooter also exited the store and tried to carjack a vehicle in the parking lot. When the driver did not comply, the gunman shot him twice. He then went after a second car at the Walmart, barging into the vehicle.
At that point, Tumwater police said, a civilian confronted the shooter, drawing his handgun, firing and killing the gunman. That same armed civilian then administered medical aid to the carjacking victim until help arrived.
The dead carjacker, later identified by police as Tim Day, 44, wasn’t supposed to have a gun. He was a felon who had served several prison sentences for violent crimes. His criminal history, according to the Seattle Times, included domestic violence, felony assault and making death threats. “He appeared to have maybe some mental-health and drug issues and was acting somewhat paranoid,” Laura Wohl, spokeswoman for the Tumwater Police Department, told the Times.
But, police said, he had taken a weapon from his fiancee. He was clearly prepared to shoot more people, police and bystanders would later report.
The civilian who killed Day was not identified until Wednesday, when he stood in the doorway of the Oakville Assembly of God Church and revealed himself. It was George, who hours earlier had delivered the sermon about getting involved.
His words of prayer were in an entirely different context, helping others find a path to God, not the road to a Walmart where the lives of frightened people were on the line.
But in hindsight, they seem prophetic, a true case of a clergyman practicing what he preached and getting involved.
And if there was a miracle to be had that Sunday, it was that fate dropped into such a hazardous position — with lives at stake — a man so well prepared to save them.
David George, as it happens, is no ordinary pastor. He is also an Oakville volunteer firefighter and EMT who is licensed to carry a concealed firearm and is specifically trained to use it against a gun-wielding criminal. A credentialed firing-range safety officer, George said he had received active-shooter training.
SOURCE: Fred Barbash
The Washington Post