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Prayers Turn To Screams in Texas

September 16, 1999

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Kim Herron was tending to a flock of young children when she heard gunfire erupt at Wedgwood Baptist Church. Her first thoughts were of her 17-year-old daughter, who was in another part of the church.

But she waited with the children, leading the group of 100 in singing, ``Jesus Loves Me.″

``You know our God’s in control, but at the same time, you’re a mom and it’s so, so scary,″ Herron said.

Her daughter had been attending a worship service at the church complex when a gunman sprayed the pews with bullets from a high-caliber semiautomatic pistol. Seven people were fatally wounded; the gunman killed himself.

Herron wasn’t sure if her daughter was still alive until she saw her outside the church.

``I think Satan just doesn’t want God to be glorified, I think Satan is at work in the world. That was Satan incarnate,″ she said.

Wednesday’s regular worship service was packed with teen-agers who earlier had taken part in an annual prayer ceremony at their schools. A band was playing music when gunshots rang out in the sanctuary.

Adults in the assembly hall thought the noise was hammering in the hallway, but a bloody teen then wrenched open the door and collapsed inside.

Across the street, off-duty police Officer Chip Gillette looked out a window to see why his dog was barking. Children, screaming in panic, were streaming from the church.

Shots were still being fired as Gillette entered the church and the first police car arrived on the scene, acting Chief Ralph Mendoza said.

``It was very quick response,″ Mendoza said.

Afraid of an ambush, Gillette cautiously eased into the building but found the gunman dead.

Hundreds of police and paramedics converged on the building, where a triage area was set up outside. Frantic parents raced to the church.

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