FOREST HILL - A pastor was fatally beaten with a guitar in an assault at the Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church Monday afternoon in Forest Hill, said police.
The suspect in the assault, Derek Birdow, 33, was pronounced dead after officers used a Taser to subdue him, Forest Hills Police Chief Daniel Dennis said. He was found unresponsive in the back of the squad car alone after being Tased. The suspect was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Birdow crashed his car into the side of the church at about 11:15 a.m. He then got out of the vehicle and assaulted Pastor Danny Kirk in a scuffle that took place inside and outside the church, police said. Authorities said a secretary who was at the church at the time of the assault was able to lock herself inside an office and is OK.
"They're going in and out, like they're chasing him," said a 911 caller. "My pastor and the custodian was chasing him or something. It looked like he drove his car into our building."
Kirk was beaten to death with an electric guitar, Dennis said. Police are not speculating on a motive at this time.
Birdow's cousin said the alleged attacker's children attend the church, but he knew of no conflict between the suspect and the minister. The cousin said the suspect might have been on drugs.
As news of the incident spread, a crowd of onlookers began to grow outside the taped-off scene. Two people overcome with emotion were taken to nearby hospitals by ground ambulance.
Another woman was stopped by police after she jumped over the crime scene tape and attempted to run toward the cordoned off area.