The daughter of a church deacon who was gunned down at the weekend has chosen to forgive her father’s killer.
Anton “Tony” Wallace, a 64-year-old registered nurse, was shot dead at West Freeway Church of Christ Sunday after an armed man entered the church and opened fire on parishioners. Wallace’s life was cruelly taken as he served communion to his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
His daughter Tiffany Wallace told NBC News that the church would have looked to welcome the disturbed gunman with open arms if he was in need. “Food, shelter, we would give it to him — whatever he needed,” she said.
Spotting the man enter the church wearing a fake beard, Tiffany said that she simply thought “‘Hey, he’s a visitor, probably looking for new church home.'” Moments later, with a communion tray in-hand, her father was senselessly shot dead.
“It just happened so fast and it was so crazy,” Wallace said. “I was like, ‘Not my dad, not my dad.'” After ensuring her children were safe, Tiffany rushed to her father’s side to comfort him — he later passed away in hospital.
Tiffany said that her father was “always prepared” for heaven. “I never thought this would happen. You think dad would get old and sick but never get murdered,” she said.
As for the gunman, who was shot dead by a member of the church’s armed security team within a matter of seconds, Tiffany insisted that he was an “evil” man. Despite his heinous crime, however, she has chosen to forgive him.
“I forgive him, and it’s the hardest thing to say because it’s like, somebody killed your dad, but I forgive him,” Wallace said. “I’ll never forgive what he did, but I forgive him.”
Tiffany is not the only church member who has chosen to forgive the deceased killer.
West Freeway congregant John Richardson, who shielded his wife when the gunfire rang out, urged people to remember that the killer was still a “creature of God.”
“I know he took some lives but we have to remember that he is a creature of God also just like we are,” Richardson explained. “And it’s a sad thing that he had to come into the congregation and hurt people, and it’s a sad thing that we had to hurt him, but I don’t have any hate for this person.”
Police have still yet to establish a clear motive for the attack.