When Glen Bucy first heard gunshots outside the sanctuary of Wedgwood Baptist Church the night of Sept. 15, he thought it was part of a skit.

The time according to his watch was 6:55 p.m. The program for this Wednesday night youth rally called for a skit about that time, he explained in an interview the day after the shooting at the southwest Fort Worth church.

"I thought they were trying to do something about Columbine to remind us," he explained, referencing the deadly rampage last spring at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Bucy, a 17-year-old high school senior, was sitting near the back of the church sanctuary because he, his brother, and a friend had arrived late. After hearing the gunshots in the foyer, he turned to look behind him.

Standing on the other side of a glass door was the gunman, peering into the sanctuary.

"I looked at him, and he looked at me. We made eye contact. Then he started shooting right at me, through the glass," Bucy said. "We had glass fly all over us."

Then the gunman opened the shattered door and walked into the sanctuary, where a Christian band was playing and the lights were dimmed. Bucy grabbed his brother and best friend and pushed them under the pew, telling them to stay still.

As the gunman continued to fire, the band played on, and those in the front of the church did not understand what was transpiring behind them.

"A lot of people started applauding because they thought it was part of this skit," Bucy explained.

The applause angered the gunman, he said. "He started shouting, 'This is for real! This is for real!'"

That's when the gunman threw a pipe bomb, Bucy said, that "shook the whole building."

The band stopped playing, and terror reigned in the sanctuary for an unknown number of minutes as the gunman cursed religion and Christianity and randomly shot his 9 mm semi-automatic handgun around the room.

That's when the applause turned to screams.

"One of the youth group leaders stood up and talked to the guy, trying to calm him down," Bucy said. "Then he started to witness to him."

That angered the gunman further, Bucy said, causing him to reply, "This religion is a bunch of bull ____."

Then the gunman fired at the man who had tried to calm him, Bucy said.

A youth group from Southwayside Baptist Church, Fort Worth, was sitting near the back when the shooting began.

Adam Hammond, a Southwestern seminary first-year student and the church's youth minister, yelled, "Get down, this is real" as teens hit the floor to take shelter under the pews.

"I didn't know if my youth were OK and I felt totally helpless," Hammond said. "I just kept praying."

Within minutes, he said, a young girl just behind the Hammond's youth group was shot in the back and soon a trail of blood covered the floor and then his clothes.

"When the first round was done I heard the clip hit the floor and he reloaded," Hammond recalled. "The next thing I knew one of my youth stood up and said, 'Sir, I know what you need, you need Jesus Christ in your life,'" Hammond said, amazed at the bravery of the 19-year-old. The gunman responded with a muffled comment about why the boy was standing when the youth continued, "I know where I'm going when I die, what about you?" Then, a pause. The gunman sat down on the back pew and took his own life.
The crowd of about 150 youth and their leaders then began running from the sanctuary. As he passed through the foyer, Bucy said, he saw several people who had been shot before the gunman entered the sanctuary.

Targeting the Faithful

Witnesses said Ashbrook entered the church and began belittling the people, their Christianity, and their belief in God.

The Houston Chronicle, in its Sept. 16 online edition, said Ashbrook identified himself three years ago as a member of a small, violent group that advocates killing Jews and minorities. John Craig, co-author of an academic study of such groups, said Ashbrook, in 1996, boasted of membership in the Phineas Priests.

Craig, the Chronicle reported, said that organization was outraged at Southern Baptists for their efforts to convert Jews to Christianity. At the time of the church shooting, Southern Baptists were openly praying for Jews during the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

A. William Merrell, V.P for Convention Relations, SBC Executive Committee, in an interview with the Washington Times, published Sept. 17, said, "I believe there is a growing climate of animus that is directed against Christians . . . who increasingly find themselves the target of great hostility in this culture." He referred to it as a "virile and fertile culture" of hostility to Christians.

A Plea for Prayer

Please pray for us, now more than ever. The shock of the event is wearing off and reality is setting in. Many are experiencing "post traumatic stress disorder." What the enemy could not accomplish by a shooter, he is now seeking to do emotionally. The stress has been tremendous and relationships are being taxed.

We will never get over this … but, by God's grace, we must get through it.

The world is watching. Please pray.

Al Meredith
Pastor, Wedgwood Baptist Church

    About the Author

  • SBC Staff