On Sunday morning, as families gathered throughout the United States to celebrate Father’s Day, the pastor of the Assembly of God Church in Oakville, Washington delivered a sermon tailored specifically for the holiday.
As Pastor David George brought that sermon to a close, he used the holiday as an opportunity to call on the men of his church to play an active role in the world around them:
God, don’t let us be content as men to just let life go by. Let’s not be content, Lord, to just see the world around us burn. Instead, help us to get involved. Help us to do something that’s going to produce Godly effort and Godly results in people’s lives.”
As the families in his congregation filed out of their seats and to their respective homes, George and his family, including his wife, daughter, and granddaughter, also set about their day — making the nearly 30 mile drive to Walmart in nearby Tumwater. All in all, it was a pretty average Sunday for the community leader: a well received sermon, a day shopping with the family but then, as George and his entourage of family members waited in the checkout line, thunderous bangs rang out from the back of the store.
George immediately recognized the sound: they were gunshots.
“I was sure it was gunshots I heard,” he said, “and I was familiar with how I should respond, while considering mine and the public’s safety in the setting of this large store.”
What he didn’t know yet was that an armed assailant, 44-year old Tim Day, had entered the store and begun firing at the locks on the ammunition display case. Once he’d successfully broken through the security measures and loaded up on ammo, he exited the store, looking for the means to make a quick escape. George, also a volunteer firefighter, trained EMT and licensed concealed carrier, along with another customer who was also armed, took it upon themselves to follow suit and ensure no one was hurt.
“I was concerned for my own family and sought to find them and exit the building. My daughter, recognizing gunshots, also gathered her daughter and moved quickly to exit the building. I did not see my wife,” he said, “and continued to look for her as people began to realize the situation and run out of the building. At no time did I draw my firearm in the building.”
Day, it would turn out, was a felon that had already served several prison sentences for crimes ranging from domestic violence to felony assault. Police said he had stolen the firearm from his fiancée, and had clear intentions to shoot more people as his rampage continued on.
“He appeared to have maybe some mental-health and drug issues and was acting somewhat paranoid,” Laura Wohl, spokeswoman for the Tumwater Police Department, told reporters.
As Day entered the parking lot, he approached a car and pointed his weapon at the driver, demanding that the he exit the vehicle. When the driver refused, Day shot him twice through the car window and moved toward the next car. He wouldn’t have a chance to fire again.
“When the driver did not or could not respond to his threats,” George said, “he began to travel in the direction that I thought my family to be. At this point, I left cover and moved to intercept the gunman.”
The driver of the second vehicle threw their car in reverse, and before Day could fire, a different shot rang out: this time, from Pastor David George’s pistol. The pastor’s aim was true, subduing Day with wounds that would ultimately kill him, but George wasn’t done yet.
He quickly retrieved the first aid kit from his vehicle and began rendering aid to the gunshot victim in the first car, keeping them alive until the Tumwater fire department and paramedics could arrive to rush the victim to the hospital in critical condition.
Although the event occurred on Sunday, no one in the Pastor’s community knew that it had actually been the leader of their Sunday sermon that had ended the gunman’s assault in nearby Tumwater until police released his name on Wednesday.
“The events of last Sunday evening were tragic and shocking from all points of view,” George explained said. “You need to know that it was not out of shame or regret that I wanted to maintain a small level of anonymity. My intention was and is to maintain the dignity and integrity of my ministry here in Oakville. I did not wish those actions to overshadow the ministry of the church and my service to the community that I love.”
“I acted on Sunday to protect my family and others from the gunman and his display of deadly intent,” George said. “This is in accordance with both my training as an emergency responder and calling as a pastor, husband, father and grandfather.”
You can listen to Pastor David George’s sermon from last Sunday morning here.
Featured image courtesy of Oakville Assembly of God via Facebook.