In a ceremony on the front lawn of the Governor’s Mansion in Austin on Monday morning, Gov. Greg Abbott bestowed the Medal of Courage to Jack Wilson, the hero who stopped the shooting at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement last month.
After a gunman claimed the lives of two members of the church, Wilson—a firearm instructor who serves as the congregation’s volunteer head of church security—drew his sidearm and quickly ended the incident, killing the intruder instantly with a single shot. Wilson was partially empowered by a recently passed state law, which allows churches to organize their own volunteer security teams.
The Governor’s Medal of Courage, given to those who display great acts of heroism by risking their own safety to save another’s life, is the highest honor given to civilians by the governor.
“Courage has been defined as feeling fear yet choosing to act, following your heart when determining what to do, persevering in the face of adversity, standing up to do the right thing to do, and facing suffering with dignity and with faith,” Abbott told those in attendance, which included members of Wilson’s family and fellow congregants of the church. “Jack Wilson embodies those traits.”
“When faced with an evil few of us could ever comprehend, Jack Wilson responded with strength, with bravery, and with love for those in the church that day. That is the kind of man that Jack Wilson is,” Abbott continued. “That is why he volunteered to provide security to the church, knowing one day he may be called upon to stand up and risk his own life.”
After Abbott referred to Wilson as a “hero,” however, Wilson rejected the label.
“I’ve been handed the moniker of a hero … I feel more as a protector than I do as a hero because I did lose two real good friends, and the whole congregation in the auditorium that day were witness to the events that went down.”
“When events arise, you’re either going to do one of two things: you’re either going step up and do what’s right, or you’re going to walk away,” said Wilson. “And I’ve never been one to walk away. Not from this or anything else.”
Abbott was joined by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick; State Sens. Donna Campbell (R–New Braunfels), Jane Nelson (R–Flower Mound), and Brian Birdwell (R–Granbury); and State Rep. Charlie Geren (R–Fort Worth), who represents the district in which the shooting took place.
Also in attendance was Britt Farmer, the senior minister of West Freeway Church of Christ. Farmer was presented with a Texas flag by Abbott, who praised him for his response to the tragic events.
Wilson is currently running for county commissioner in Hood County.