Situational Awareness Skills: Texas Church Shooting Take-Away

by Michelle Cerino

Sadly, as 2019 was coming to a close, another church shooting occurred in the US. More often than not, these horrifying events are reported from eyewitness accounts, not giving us much of a learning tool. However, because of live-streaming capabilities, the recent Texas church shooting came front and center in the world’s living rooms. The video offers us the opportunity to review what happened and perhaps better develop our situational awareness skills and training practices.

On Sunday, December 29, 2019, a 43-year-old killer opened fire on the congregation of the West Freeway Church of Christ, in White Settlement, Texas. Within about 6 seconds, the gunman murdered 2 members of the congregation before Jack Wilson, the head of the church’s volunteer security team, fatally shot him. I’ve reviewed the video several times and offer the following take-aways from the Texas church shooting.

Church Security Team

Although I’m not sure if these people served as official members of the church security team, or just carried concealed, this is what I saw in the video:

The first victim Texas church shooting carried his firearm in the small of his back. He stood up and gave a verbal command while attempting to get to his handgun. He never came to full draw before being shot himself.

The second victim appears to have been shot because of his close proximity to the killer. He seemed caught completely off-guard, not realizing what was happening. I don’t think he was part of the church security team.

As Jack Wilson drew his pistol, the gunman’s attention was toward the front of the church. Jack made a head shot at a distance, fatally shooting him.

At least 5 other members of the congregation moved toward the front of the church with guns out. One person had the presence of mind to go to a low ready position as a girl came running toward him. Thus not pointing the muzzle of his gun at her.


Consider the following tips for your training:

Are you able to remove your pistol from your carry location with nonthreatening, stealth movements?

Do you practice drawing and shooting your firearm from positions other than standing?

When target shooting, do you practice long distance accuracy shots on small targets?

The Congregation’s Situational Awareness

The video clip I viewed of the Texas church shooting is only 25 seconds long. Within that time, there’s a lot of movement going on during the 6 seconds of gunfire and afterward. The following information is what I gathered as a big picture and some smaller details.

At the first shot, most of the congregation turned their heads toward the sound.

During the second shot, they began ducking down in the pews.

After the third shot, 3 women, farthest from the gunfire ran out.

Meanwhile, a fourth woman, who was near the victims, frantically screamed and climbed over pews to get away.

One man ran toward the victims, giving commands to others as they approached.


Consider the following for yourself, your church and when helping your children develop their situational awareness skills:

When you hear the sound of gunfire, how should you react if you’re close to it? What if you are farther away?

Does your church have a protocol for attending to the injured? Is the necessary first aid equipment available? Are people trained?

What happens when it’s over? Who greets the police?

Although I read a lot about active killer situations, I’m no expert. Anyone can be an armchair quarterback and yes, hindsight is 20/20. However, using the horrific event of the Texas church shooting as a learning tool may save lives in the future.

Michelle Cerino, aka Princess Gunslinger, is the managing and social media editor at The WON. Michelle is the president of Cerino Consulting and Training Group, LLC, a firearms training company she built with her husband Chris in 2011. Her path in the firearms and outdoors industries is ever progressing. She is writing, hunting, competing and doing contract work for major manufacturers.