FOREST HILL - A longtime Baptist pastor was fatally beaten inside his Forest Hill church Monday morning, and the suspect later died in the back of a patrol car, according to police and MedStar.
Pastor Danny Kirk was apparently inside Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church, 7312 Forest Hill Drive, about 11:15 a.m. when a vehicle crashed into the side of the building.
Police Chief Dan Dennis said they believe the attack on the pastor began in the parking lot of the church, and then moved inside the church, eventually ending in the music room. When officers arrived, they found the man beating Kirk with an electric guitar, Dennis said.
An officer fired his Taser to end the assault, Dennis said. The suspect was placed in the back of a patrol car. When officers later returned to the car, he wasn't breathing, said MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky.
A janitor was attacked outside the church and was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. A church secretary was also inside the building but locked herself in a storage closet and was not injured, Dennis said.
Authorities have not released the identities of anyone involved. Church members identified Kirk as the pastor.
Paramedics were on the scene Monday afternoon treating multiple grief-stricken patients.
Dennis said that police weren't yet sure of the motive but that robbery hasn't been ruled out. He said he they don't believe that the suspect was a church member but that he might have had family members who are members of the congregation.
Associate minister Claudie Loftin praised Kirk's leadership at the church.
"He had a hug for everyone," Loftin said. "If you came in this church, you got a hug, no matter how long the line was. He was a man of honesty and integrity, and he showed it every day."
Kirk was ordained in 1984 and started the Forest Hill church in 1995, according to the church's website.
The church has more than 850 members and offers a food pantry, a clothing ministry and a scholarship program for students. Members were planning an expansion, largely due to the leadership of Kirk.
"People wanted to come hear and see him," youth minister Cleveland Starr said.
The pastor also was a chaplain in the Fort Worth school district.
He grew up in the Central Texas city of Marlin before moving to the Forest Hill area, Starr said.
"He was a faithful man, a religious man, who loved his family," Starr said. "You could find him at the other church or somewhere nearby. He always had time for everyone."
Staff writer Domingo Ramirez Jr. contributed to this report.
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