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Sorrell

The Moment of the Shooting

What was Woody doing at the moment the first shots were fired? Some of the eyewitnesses were looking at Woody at the moment. None corroborate the story of the officers that Woody charged Officer Parker.

Eyewitnesses

Mary
source:3/25 synopsis
Woodward did not go forward toward the police just before the first shot. If anything he "backed up". She didn't see any threats to the police by Woodward She was in the front row left and exited right after the last shot was fired. She could only see W's upper body.
.
Clifton
And before I knew it, he came forward and there was one shot, I believe. At first one shot rang out. And then pretty soon the three policemen shot at once and he fell down ...
He seemed like we wasn't going to move and wasn't going to leave. He had his hands in his pockets and was taking things out of his pockets. I guess they were cards, credit cards or something like that. I just thought, well the police were upset by that because he went forward. He fell forward.
It looked like he was coming forward, but I think he had been shot at that point, once. I thought he was being stunned, or something. I didn't think he was really shot so I was looking at the police and what they were going to do and one of the policemen just told ... to move out of there, so I did. That's all I saw, I didn't see him, you know, wielding a knife or anything like that. I just saw him point it, he threatened himself and he mentioned something about the war.
source:3/25 synopsis
Thinks police must have thought he was coming after them since he was advancing on them. (thought there were 7 minutes between 1st and last shot because he'd left the room to call ambulance.)
.
Polly
I was right there for every single second and my eyes were on him, and he did not make any threatening ... he may have said something softly that was threatening, but he certainly didn't say antying that I could hear in a threatening way except to himself. He said I'm going to do myself harm ... and he had the knife right next to his eye.
At the time of the first shot, he was standing to the left hadn side of the lectern, and he had,.. at the time of the first shot he had a knife towards his own eye. He looked defensive, not offensive, if you know what I mean by that difference.
source:3/12 synopsis
If anything he was shuffling backwards at the time he was shot. Not moving forward at all. She did not see Mr. Woodward bring knife down from his head prior to first shot.
.
Charles
source:3/12 synopsis
Charles got up to leave when he saw that the police had drawn weapons. He had turned to leave and was looking away from Woodward for three seconds or so when the first shot was fired.
.
Sherry
I saw him in front of the tree, right there with the knife in front of his eye, as I said in our interview before, and so ... and I heard the gun and I saw the gun and him ...
.
Bob
source:
Thinks Tommy Thomas may have told him that Woodward may have been moving forward towards the exit doors behind cops to try to flee but had the knife down.
.
Adelbert
source:12/2 interview
I could see no one near to him that might have been hurt by his knife and I didn't see him point it at anyone but himself. Having worked in a psychiatric hospital I didn't think his actions were particularly remarkable for a psychotic, and I didn't think his paranoid reactions were a threat to others.
source:12/2 interview, p.5
I didn't see him threaten anyone else, he never pointed the knife, that I saw, at any other person ... I don't think he was clear close to any, any of the members of the congregation and no one was standing up near it.
source:12/2 interview, p.5
how far away was he from the police officers?
I would say they were twelve to fifteen feet, twenty feet away.
and the people from the congragation were half the distance
from the police?
that would be my impression, yeah. Did he take a step forward toward the police at all? Not that I saw.
I'm not sure about that. I would have remembered, I think, if he had turned in any aggressive way. And threatened them. But I think he was very threatened.
source:3/12 synopsis
Knife up near eye, never saw it down. Doesn't remember where it was at moment of first shot, but "I would have remembered if he did something that appeared to use the knife on someone else."
.
Tommy
And when Woodward pointed the knife at his own eyes, shot.
There was no immediate danger to anybody in that area because the three were ... that officer byWoodring and the Xmas tree. I remember thinking Oh my god, I hope they don't' shoot the glass ... but I don't hin there was anyone who would have been in the line of fire.
source:12/2 interview, p.6
About how far away would you estimate the closest parishioners were?
Twenty feet at least ... I don't think anybody in the congregation felt endangered by Mr. Woodward.
.
Robert
what did Woodward do just prior to the police shooting him?
Resist them.
How?
I don't know, they were on him in no time, One minute he was standing and the next minute the guns are firing, bang, bang, bang, I don't know how many shots, one person said they heard three, someone else who didn't witness but was outside said it was eight shots. He didn't just stop and throw down the knife and say, here I am. Something about throw down hands, nothing like that.
What made you believe he was resisting?
I didn't see any specific action, I just assumed looking policemen without seeing.
I could see he hadn't thrown down the knife, stood up and put his hands up or whatever one does to surrender. I mean, I had no impression that he was surrendering at all. Neither did I have any impression that the policemen had the slightest need to fear for their lives.
So when you say he had his hands up, he was kind of 
flaring his hands around?
No, what are talking, what specifics?
When the police arrived.
I don't remember seeing anything quite like that. I had this sense he was kind of back up away from the police, moving forward, and when the shots came, I think he had the knife, I'm pretty sure of that. I think it's tough being a policeman. I think everyone understands that. Whether the police are going to tell us their own story. I doin't see in any shape or form that this man was a threat to the police.
Why's that?
Just because he was backing away. I suppose if you put your hand out he probably would stab at it. I don't mean a threat as he was charging into the pollice you know. It seems there might have been another way to subdue him without shooting. It certainly didn't need four policement shooting him.
That's your opinion?
That's my opinion, well, I think you will find a lot of people will say that. I don't object, obviously something had to be done, but-
(interrupting)
So how many police do you think there were?
source:3/25 synopsis
He does not remember W's movements but thinks they might have been backwards. He did not see Woodward lunge at the police (interesting in that the cop was directly blocking him and W- and if Woodward had moved significantly, might he have reappeared from other side of cop if cop was still?)
.
Janis
source:12/2 handwritten statement
I heard one shot. There was a short period where we heard other shots fired. He was coming forward toward them and he .. he did have his knife pointed like this at one point. He was trying to do this. He ended up by the podium on the ground.
source:12/2 interview, p.4
After the first gunshot I saw his arm swung around. There were several additional shots fired .... I'd say anwhere from three to five. ...
.. that he took the blade and kind of made a gesture toward
the officers?  So that the blade was pointed to them or
he walked toward them or moved toward them?
When he ... I'll be honest with you. I believe it was after the first gunshot.
OK
...
And that was after...
I honestly can't tell you if it was after the first shot or before the first shot. I do remember him seeing him waving the knife. He was coming, he came from the corner, he came forward because he ended up... there was a movement forward, he ended up in front of the podium, to the left of the podium, and he ended up in a crumpled heap on the floor with his belly facing the podium.
Janis: I can't tell you the back and forth movement, if he moved forward or if the police moved forward. I could not tell you that. I don't have a clear recollection of that. I can't tell you their movements. I was more focused on what he was doing and I was also focused on getting the people out. It would only be a peripheral view.
He moved forward and this was after they told him to drop the knife?
He had the knife in front of his eye.
Over by the Xmas tree?
Over by the Xmas tree. And he was kind of... when people are scared they are kind of hopping back and forth, when he took his steps forward I can not tell you. I do know he moved from where he was in the corner to over by the podium.
Did you watch him do that?
I saw him moving. Now whether as he was moving, they were moving, I can't tell you.
OK.
That...those last few things happened extremely quickly, obvioulsy. The gunshots were very, very, very quick. There was one shot, pause, boom, boom, boom, several after that. And he was still, even when he was down on the floor he was still talking. He never stopped talking the whole time, even after he was shot, he was still talking.
what did he say?
I couldn't hear him clearly but you could tell he was still, you know, going off ... whatever brought him here in the first place. I did hear him say "ow" ... he was raving ... he was raving.
I think that in the last few seconds there was concern by the police officers not only for their safety but for the safety of the people in the room, because at that point, I just feel like he was moving forward, and I don't think anybody knew what he was going to do. You know, that ... and he was just so agitated ... that I don't know ... he seemed kinf of ... when people get too hyper like that it almost seems like they have more strength than normal and he was over that point and he was moving forward.
were you in fear of your safety?
I don't think I was so afraid for myself as I was for others in that room. That there were people in that room that could get hurt. For myself I don't think I was.
He kept the point to his eye in his right hand ... he had the knife in his right hand, holding it to his right eye and the left hand was in front of him, almost as if to ward somebody off. (repeats, elaborates on this "ward off" concept) ... but the knife you know, once he pulled the knife out it was right there and kept it near his eye, very close to his eye. Saying that was his thing. I guess that was his way. He was going to kill himself, he was going to plunge it into his eye. That was the main ... it never went anywhere else. ... on the lseft hand side of his body, it was always at the right hadns died either rightin front of the eye or maybe close to the temple. Mostly it was right in front of the eye.
Did Woodward turn the knife toward the officers and walk 
toward them or is that the part you're not sure of what happened?
That's the part I'm not sure, cause I turned ... I turned to the people beside me and I said we have to go now. There's on part there I don't know exactly what happened, but I do know, looking up when he did have the knife. It was not in his eye, he had the knife forward and then it was very ... there was movement ... the police were moving forward. They were coming forward, yes, they were. Then several shots took place. I didn't see him get hit. I didn't see the several shots. I just heard the one shot, pause, I saw him on the floor. You know, I saw those other shots, I saw him on the floor. Which is a distance of what, fifteen feet ... ten to fifteen feet, and he was on the lfoor.
So he moved ten to fifteen feet?
You measure if he was right in front of the Xmas tree in the corner ... He ended up as you face the podium on the left hand side of the podium.
At the very end, do you think that he was going to hurt ...
could have hurt somebody? Did you feel that instead of him
getting up there and wanting to day something or hurting
himself at the very last second, could he have ...
Yes.
Hurt somebody else?
Yes. I believe he thought he was trapped and he ... I believe he had the capability of hurting someone at that point. Yes, I do.
source:12/3
Police were telling him to drop the knife, he did not. A single shot was fired, I believe, striking himin the area of his elbow. He did not drop the knife. Did not threaten anyone with the knife up to this point. Only himself. Still ranting and raving, really screaming at this point. More facing the police than the congregation. Made a waving motion with his hands. Appeared to move toward the police. I looked at the police. Saw both guns. Both hands on guns, pointed directly at W. Aprox. 6-8 more shots were fired in rapid succession.
source:3/11 synopsis
She says Woodward moved towards the police prior to the first shot. Now she says maybe her written notes are not in chronical order. Now says she can't recall Woodward movement prior to the first shot nor the waving of the knife forward. Not as certain about the lack of threatening gestures with the knife as she is about the lack of advancing by Woodward towards the police. Unsure whether he moved knife from head to eye, but did not extemd outward in direction of the officers. Was in motion after the first shot. Re: motion prior to, yes. Moving across the room in an attacking position? No. Cannot honestly remember if the threatening gesture came before the first shot. Not as certain of threateneing gesture as she is of advance post first shot. Fairly certain not advancing towards officer.
.
Jane
source:12/2 interview
You know, they said it nicely the first time, "drop the knife. Please drop the knife." I think someone said something like "we're here to help you." But right after that the gun was out and then came forth the other order, "drop the knife" and then the shooting ensued.
Woodward said No I'm not going to, though?
The one time. And he wasn't pointing the knife at anyone else. It was only at his eye.
source:12/2 interview
I didn't see him move toward anybody else. Like I said, the knife just got closer to his right eye. My gut feeling was that he wasn't going to use it on himself. I'm not sure if he had quite the guts to.
.
Donna
source:12/3 interview
And he said "No, I'm not going to. I'm going to kill myself." I can't remember really if he switched hands but he made some movement with the knife other than at himself. And they said "You're forcing us ... we need you to stop this. Stay still, give us the knife." And he's like, no, and he's got his arms up and the man on the right shot him in the left arm and maybe the shoulder, and the other shot went about the same time, and I didn't see where the other shots were but I thought I heard six. He didn't you know, he's not giving up. He's not falling. Like after the first couple of shots and it took whatever they gave him to, as far as shooting, to get him to go down. And then he finally went down, and he's still screaming. "I know you're going to assassinate me, Now you're going to torture me." And they got perfectly compassionate and they're right down there with him and they said "Look just let us help you."
And he came to the front of the podium and he kind of danced to the side of the podium, toward the piano side, and he was sort of either sort of, you know, like on his feet kind of moving back and fort kind of like a ... just like bouncing from one foot to the next and ... I mean like he'd go forward a couple of steps and then he'd go backward, you know? So he was just in a very small area right basically in the same place, just moving forward and back. Like he didn't know where to go.
source:12/3 interview
What's the last thing you remember him doing?
He was still looking at them in disbelief, and you know, screaming ... the same rantings of ...
What was he doing with the knife?
He had the knife up to his eye, or his head most of the time, and I don't know this for a fact but right afterward, I thought that I saw him switch the knife from one hand to the other. But I can't say I know that for a fact or not. What I'm trying to say is I felt like there was some provocation on his part.
Just prior to being shot?
Right, but he definitely didn't ... he didn't retreat.
And he had it toward his head ... or? He, you know, after maybe about that third shot, he did have it down, but I don't know exactly where. Somewhere between chest and thigh level.
OK, just before he was shot he had the knife ...
Up, definitely.
Towards his head?
yup ... yup.
where were the nearest members of the cong.?
... In feet, somewhere between eight and twelve feet.
And how many people were in the eight to twelve foot range,
about?
You know like less than ten, more than three.
source:3/12 synopsis
Had she been a police officer, she would have thought W's movements were an advance. She thought he was psychotic. He came forward five-six feet to the point where he fell. She was not "surprised" by the first three shots since his conduct was "threatening" to the police and those within the congregation. She thought the last three to four shots were "excessive" He had not fallen to the ground. He still had the knife but was wilting when the last shot was fired. Although she wouldn't call Woodward "less aggressive" at the time of the last three to four shots.
source:3/12 synopsis
He may either have advanced or moved to the right. If she were in Parker's position just prior to first shot, she would have interpreted W's movement as coming towards him. She was not surprised by first shot. "He was dangerous to begin with, he gave no evidence that he was going to do anything other than harm someone." She believed W's conduct prior to the first shot was threatening to the cops and others.
.
Michael
source:12/2 interview, p.15
The only act of aggression that I could see the last time I had repeating line, direct line of sight with him with the knife that it was held up toward himself.
Did you ever see him point the knife at the Officers?
No.
did you ever see him point the knife at you or other members
of the congregation?
No.
Did he ever make any comments like he was going to kill the
police?
No, his ah, his comments were essentially that he was going to be killed. That they were going to kill him.
I don't ever recall him saying anything to the effect that I'm going to kill you or I'm going to kill them, but rather his verbalization were all self directed. I'm going to kill myself and they're going to kill me. Something to that effect.
source:3/12 synopsis
When Italia last saw Woodward before the shooting he was moving towards the police and definitely not retreating. He was either stationary or moving slightly. Italia heard three shots in one to two seconds. Italia saw no threatening gestures with the knife toward anyone other than himself. Italia thinks Woodward's movements towards the police could well have been percieved by the police as threatening. Woodward was very unpredictable and this is why Italia created more distance between himself and Woodward. I certainly was afraid. Italia is a psychologist experienced with psychotics and Woodward was "right up there" and "off the charts."
source:3/12 synopsis
Last recollection, his face, extreme agitation with hand to face, but he went to the right, definitely not in a retreating mode.
.
Marshall Holbrook
The subject then dropped the knife from his eye and was holding it with the blade pointing up in his right hand. Officer Parker and I both had our weapons drawn and Officer Parker was ordering continuing to odder the subject to drop the knife.
Officer Parker told him probably twice, maybe even more times to put the knife down, um, and from there it all happened real, very fast. He didn't (note on transcript xerox reads "typo [did?]") bring the knife down from his eye, but he was golding it in his right hand with the blade pointed out. And just that was in the middle of this, that was just for a split second, there was no warning, and he just charged at Officer Parker.
I think he was about 12 feet, you know that is just approximate, maybe just a little bitm ore, but it's approximately 12 feet from ...
and it was prior to him doing the charge)
That was prior to him doing the charge, yeah.
Yeah, he didn't give any warning. It's just, there was no indication that he was going to do that, he just charged.
Officer Parker barely had time, but I did hear him yell stop, and an, he obviously didn't stop, and ah, Officer Parker, ah, shot him.
He had the knife up at that point ... probably by his elbow at like 90 degrees and kinda then went back like that and started again. Um, that's when I fired at him also.
I mean the guy was right, directly going right towards Officer Parker.
I mean the delay (between first and subsequent shots) was like a millionth of a second. When I shot I mean it was like a second if that. I mean, it was all very fast.
.

Police

Terrance Parker
source:12/3 report
.. then without provocation he took the knife from in front of his face and pointed the knife at me and he started to run towards me. I pointed my weapon at him and he continued at me. I then fired appox 3 rounds at him and he continued at me, I started moving backwards at the time and then he fell to the floor with the knife in his hand.
source:12/3 report
Subject came after people. Subject went from holding the knife to his eye and turned towards Officer Parker and the people many of who still had not moved and were in imminent danger of serious injury or death. Subject became more and more agitated, lunging at Officer Parker who had to fire along with Officer Holbrook to prevent Officer Parker from being stabbed, or any of people sitting in front of Sanctuary.
source:12/3 interview
Without warning and without provocation he ran at me with the knife he took the knife from where he had it, from his face he had set it, let it go down a little bit and then he just came running at me. He had posed the knife directly at me. He had sort of dropped his hand and all of a sudden he started to run and that he had the knife off to his side running toward me.
Did you say anything to him?
I just shot.
Did he say anything to you?
Not while he was running, I, I don't recall.
There was a door directly behind him that he was able to take if he wanted to flee.
I don't know if he fell to the floor, or kind of you know wandered to the floor but he had stopped coming at me.
So he's about twenty to twenty-five feet away, he takes a run
at you and when he gets to be within six to eight feet that's
when you start firing your weapon?
For the time it took me to bring myweapon up to aim and in that distance had closed extremely quickly. I was just giving an estimate of what I think is the distance.
.
William Davies
source:12/20 interview
He changes from holding the weapon up to his head to bringing the weapon around in an aggressive manner and he comes from this location right at Officer Parker.
Well .. I felt that he was going to kill somebody, that his intentions were to inflict serious bodily injury or kill another human being.
The only reason I didn't fire my weapon was Officer Parker was in front of me and there were other people that were in front of me ... I didn't have a safe shot. There was not a direct line of fire.
The gentleman comes at Officer Parker or in that general
direction and has the knife down, and Officer Parker is
giving him commands?
Yes, Verbal commands. Drop the knife. And he was trying to get him to put the knife down, and the suspect who was highly agitated just continued towards the people or Officer Parker.
How close was suspect before Parker discharged his firearm?
(Estimates, between my elbow and the tv? So what is that? ...) 8 feet? 10 feet?
.

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