Brother questions recent behavior of pastor's killer

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Audio: Excerpt: 911 call from inside the church

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FOREST HILL ¡X As a candlelight vigil came to an end Tuesday night at Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church, and the mourners headed home, Shanellia Birdow„© hung back in the darkened parking lot.

She was there, she said, to join in the expression of deep sorrow for the shocking slaying of the Rev. Danny Kirk Sr. on Monday.

Also, she was there hoping for forgiveness for her family.

Her husband, Derrick Birdow, attacked Kirk and a church janitor, bashing Kirk to death with an electric guitar he grabbed in a church music room.

Shanellia Birdow said she couldn¡¦t explain her husband¡¦s actions, other than to say that he seemed to have some sort of mental illness.

¡§I came here today because I¡¦m sorry this happened,¡¨ she said in a hushed, quavering voice. ¡§I¡¦m hurting not only because I lost my pastor, but also because I lost my husband.

¡§People are making stuff up. He was sick, really sick ... mentally ill.¡¨

Birdow said she begged her husband to get help and he went to a local hospital a few days ago, but ¡§they let him go.¡¨

¡§Before he got help, it was just too late,¡¨ she said.

Forest Hill police say Derrick Birdow, 33,1-20-79 crashed his Mercury Grand Marquis into a wall of the church at 7312 Forest Hill Drive about 11:15 a.m. Monday and attacked Kirk, 53,12-12-58 and church janitor John Whittaker.cq per bill A church secretary managed to hide and call 911.

¡§My pastor is bleeding. He¡¦s been attacked,¡¨ she told a 911 operator.

Police officers arrived while Birdow was still pounding on Kirk with the guitar, and subdued him with a Taser discharge, Forest Hill police Chief Dan Dennis said. They put Birdow into a patrol car, where they found him dead a short time later.

He was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:25 p.m.

The Tarrant County medical examiner¡¦s office has not ruled on the cause and manner of Birdow¡¦s death but is awaiting results of toxicology tests, which can take weeks to complete.

Kirk was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner found that he died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, and ruled the death a homicide.

Earlier Tuesday, Derrick Birdow¡¦s brother, Glen Birdow, said Derrick had been acting strangely for about a week, saying that people were coming to kill him and that someone had stuck him with a needle.

Glen Birdow said he drove from south Texas to Fort Worth Thursday to try to persuade his brother to check himself into a hospital, but he resisted.

¡§I love my brother. The whole family loved him, but they know that wasn¡¦t him,¡¨ Glen Birdow said.

¡§I don¡¦t even know Pastor Kirk. I¡¦m sorry for his family and everything they¡¦re going through but that was not my brother. That was somebody else and I hate that.¡¨

Birdow said he had never known his brother to show signs of mental illness, nor had he seen indications that his brother was on drugs.

But in the past week, Glen Birdow said, his brother began acting jittery, talking in their phone calls about a dead grandmother as if she was still alive and insisting that people were trying to kill him.

¡§That¡¦s all he kept saying the whole week ¡X somebody was coming to kill him,¡¨ Glen Birdow said. ¡§He¡¦d say, ¡¥Get your camouflage. They¡¦re coming. They¡¦re coming.¡¦ ¡¨

Glen Birdow said when he arrived to visit his brother, Derrick Birdow insisted he was OK and didn¡¦t need to go to the hospital. He told his brother that somebody had stuck him with a needle.

¡§I said who?¡¨ Glen Birdow said. ¡§ ¡¥Nobody. Nobody. Nobody.¡¦ He was just talking fast and crazy. I don¡¦t know what was in his system. All I know is that wasn¡¦t my brother.¡¨

In their last conversation on Saturday, Derrick Birdow seemed to be fine, Glen Birdow said.

¡§He was just having a conversation, talking about the Cowboys game,¡¨ Glen Birdow said. ¡§Whatever went on yesterday, he just lost it.¡¨

Glen Birdow said the family has no idea why Derrick Birdow targeted the Forest Hill church.

¡§It just makes no sense,¡¨ Glen Birdow said. ¡§It just makes no sense. I don¡¦t understand the connection. Nobody even knows what he was doing over there. He was supposed to be going to pick up my cousin over in Mansfield. He never picked him up. All of a sudden, they saw him on TV.¡¨

Glen Birdow scoffed at speculation that robbery might have been the motive. He said Derrick Birdow, a truck driver, was not currently working but had saved up money with plans to buy his own truck.

¡§He had $1,000 in his pocket when he was at the church yesterday so it wasn¡¦t a robbery,¡¨ Glen Birdow said.

Tarrant County records show Derrick Birdow has felony and misdemeanor convictions and served time in prison.

In 1999, he was sentenced to 120 days in jail for possessing a controlled substance. In 2000, he got a 45-day jail sentence for misdemeanor assault of a family member and in 2004, 35 days for driving while intoxicated.

In 2004, Derrick Birdow was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting a man. Glen Birdow said his brother shot a man whom he believed had stolen money from him, and police would not help him.

The brother he knew, Glen Birdow said, was a loving man who, in his right mind, would never have committed the violence that occurred Monday inside the church.

¡§That¡¦s not the brother that I grew up. That¡¦s not the brother that I raised.¡¨ he said. ¡§The brother I knew wouldn¡¦t get mad. I would get mad before him. You could do anything to Derrick and he¡¦d walk away.

¡§He¡¦d give you the shirt off his back, shared everything with anybody. This is not him. This wasn¡¦t him. If he did get a hold of some bad drugs, I don¡¦t know.¡¨

Deanna Boyd, (817) -390

Twitter: @deannaboyd

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