Witnesses Came Forward
The church witnesses acquired a terrible burden in witnessing a man's life being extinguished. They responded in different ways, several in publicly proclaiming the innocence of the victim. That Woody did not threaten would later be abundantly documented by transcripts of the witness statements and State Police interviews. But Woody would be spared from being smeared as a dangerous psychopath -- the theme of Sorrell's Woodward Shooting Report -- because parishioners like the Hunts, Polly Wilson, and JBC Thomas courageously bore witness to friends and reporters. While the state stonewalled with an coverup disguised as a 5-month investigation, the public and friends and family were able to learn what happened in the church that day.
Norman Hunt gave the following account:
My wife and I were sitting
in All Souls Church on Sunday morning, Dec. 2, only a few feet from where
two policemen stood when they fired the shots that killed Robert Woodward.
Woodward came into our church asking for sanctuary. At that point he had no
weapon in sight. He told us that if the police caught him they would kill
By the time the police arrived Woodward had a small folding knife which he was pointing at his eye. I did not see him at any time point it in any other direction, nor did he make any sort of threatening remark or gesture.
No attempt was made to reason with Woodward, to spray "pepper" on his face, to shoot "stun" bullets, to fire live bullets near but not into him, nor to incapacitate him, as with shooting at his knees.
These are facts.
Margaret Hunt, Norman's wife, sat next to him. She said:
|It was horrible to watch them kill him, The thing that bothered us most was that he didn't threaten anyone. That I would stake my life on. He never said one single thing.|
Polly Wilson, who sat in the third row with her husband Dr. Adelbert Ames said she and her husband were never afraid except for Woody himself. She said:
|He did not threaten anyone in the congregation at any point, My impression was that he waved a knife in front of his own face and threatened to do himself harm. ... I was very afraid for him.|
J.B.C Thomas, who witnessed the shooting from a standing position in the back of the room said to Jim Hoffman in an interview:
|I haven't heard any member of the congregation say that they felt threatened by Woody.|
The fact that Woody never threatened anyone but himself is undisputed among the witnesses who were in the church at the time of the shooting. These witnesses deserve praise for their courage and compassion.
It is instructive to read how this event is portrayed in some early press accounts which described Woody as knife-welding, without clarifying that he was 'wielding' the knife only at himself.