Widow: Man who killed Texas pastor mentally ill

Associated Press Modified: October 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm •  Published: October 31, 2012

FOREST HILL, Texas (AP) — The man who rammed his car into a Fort Worth-area church then beat the pastor to death with an electric guitar apparently suffered from a mental illness, his widow said.

Speaking after a prayer vigil for the Rev. Danny Kirk Sr. Tuesday night, Shanellia Harris Birdow said she does not know why Derrick Anthony Birdow attacked the minister the previous day. She is a member of Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church in Forest Hill, but he had only attended a few times and did not know the pastor, she said.

"He was sick, really sick ... mentally ill. ... Even these last couple of days (before the attack) he was trying to get help, but he didn't get it," she said, adding that he had never been diagnosed with a mental disorder. She did not say when he started showing signs of a mental illness.

Forest Hill police say Derrick Birdow, 33, rammed his car into a church wall, attacked the pastor in the parking lot, chased him inside and fatally beat him with an electric guitar that he found in the building. Police used a stun gun on Birdow, who was later found unresponsive in a patrol car and pronounced dead at a hospital.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office has not yet released Birdow's cause of death or toxicology report.

Kirk, 53, died at the scene. Kirk's funeral is set for Saturday at Great Commission Baptist Church in nearby Fort Worth.

Shanellia Birdow said the couple were not separated "but he was going through some things." She declined to elaborate. She said he did not use drugs.

She said it was difficult for her to attend the vigil but that she wanted to express her sorrow at what happened.

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