Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Church Founder and Pastor Beaten to Death with Electric Guitar

On October 30, 2012, Derrick Birdow, 33,┬árammed his car into an exterior wall of the Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church, possibly in an effort to hit church founder and pastor, Danny Kirk Sr., who was in the parking lot. The frightened pastor ran inside with Birdow in hot pursuit. Birdow caught up with Kirk in the music room and beat him repeatedly in the head with an electric guitar as the janitor and some of the staff tried to fight him off. When the church secretary saw what was happening, she barricaded herself in to an office and called 911 saying, “My pastor’s bleeding, he’s been attacked. I’m not going out there. I need real help fast. Send policeman. I do need an ambulance also.” The 911 operator asked, “Does your pastor know him?” to which the terrified woman responded, “I have no idea.”

When police arrived Birdow was still attacking Kirk and the janitor. Police responders used a stun gun to subdue him. They arrested Birdow and placed him in a squad car. The janitor and one other were taken to the hospital for medical treatment. Kirk did not survive the attack, and when police went back to check on their prisoner minutes later he was dead too. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet released Birdow’s cause of death. Police are still looking for answers as hundreds of church members mourn Kirk’s death.

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