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Left to right:  Chief Deputy Morgan Hightower, Sergeant Aaron Porras, Deputy Derek Gray, and Lieutenant Brandon Jones of the Moore County Sheriff's Office Friday at an award ceremony Friday for Deputy Gray.  He was given a Letter of Commendation for his performance in capturing a car-theft suspect in December.

Lieutenant Brandon Jones of the Moore County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) presented Deputy Derek Gray a Letter of Commendation Friday for his work in an incident that took place on Sunday, December 22.  It was an incident that involved a stolen vehicle, a suspect trying to avoid arrest, a church full of worshipers attending Sunday morning services, and a stolen gun.  Gray's actions that day were "an example of the characteristics the Moore County Sheriff's Office strives for while protecting and serving our community," Jones wrote in the letter he presented Gray.  "Deputy Gray is a fine example of these characteristics, and our office would like to take this opportunity to commend Deputy Gray for his hard work and dedication."

According to Sergeant Jace Delgado of the MCSO, Deputy Gray was on patrol that Sunday morning on U.S. 87/287 near Walmart.  Shortly after 10:00 am, he heard a report of a stolen vehicle in Dumas, and he began to watch the southbound highway for vehicles leaving town.  Around 10:18 am, he spotted what he was looking for:  a vehicle that perfectly matched the description of the vehicle reported stolen.  He looked at the driver and noticed something strange:  he was acting in ways that, according to his law enforcement training, could indicate that he was engaged in criminal behavior.  Gray began to follow the vehicle as it continued south.  When it reached the Grace Through Faith Church, the driver turned in and parked.  Gray followed.

Inside the church, Pastor Jori Buchenau was about halfway through his Sunday morning service.  Scott Vines was the usher at the front door.  "I saw (Deputy) Gray pull into the parking lot," he said.  "Initially, I couldn't see the suspect."  Eventually, he did see the suspect, later identified as Husin Bi of Dumas, walking towards the front door.  Vines says he initially didn't think anything about it, except, "I noticed he was curious about the deputy being in the parking lot."  When  Bi reached the front door, Vines opened it to let him in.  Bi entered, leaned against a wall, and looked at Vines, which Vines says he remembers thinking was strange.  The two men stood there between two sets of double doors with Bi looking back and forth between Vines and the parking lot and making no effort to move into the sanctuary where the service was going on.   

In the meantime, according to the text of his Letter of Commendation, Gray confirmed with dispatch that the vehicle he had followed into the parking lot was, indeed, the stolen vehicle.  He began looking for the driver.

Eventually, Bi "poked his head out and (Deputy) Gray spotted him and began motioning and telling him to come outside," said Vines.  "He (Bi) kind of made a motion like he was going to come on into the sanctuary.  He walked across the foyer a little bit.  I was standing there at the doors, and I kind of looked at him and shook my head.  It was all pretty quick.  He kind of took a step and looked at me. … He turned and went outside."  

Outside, Gray was waiting for him.  "When he first walked out the door, he made a step like he was going to run, and (Deputy) Gray told him no," Vines continued.  Gray cut off Bi's avenue of escape and ordered him to put his hands on his patrol vehicle.  Bi complied.  As he was searching Bi, Gray found in the left front pocket of his jacket what turned out to be a stolen Glock 21 pistol.  "At that point, (Deputy) Gray went to put him in the cuffs, and that was when he went to fight. … That is when he tried to get away.  At that point, (Deputy) Gray put him down."

Vines says Sergeant Clayton Williams of the Dumas Police Department, who was off-duty and happened to be at the church, came to Gray's assistance and helped him get Bi into handcuffs and into Gray's patrol car.

Bi was taken to the Moore County Jail, where he remains on charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, unlawfully carrying a weapon, and resisting arrest.

No one was injured in the incident.  According to Pastor Buchenau, most of the congregation never knew anything out of the ordinary was going on.  He and Vines are both grateful the incident did not have a tragic ending, and they say they appreciate the work of Deputy Gray and Sergeant Williams.  "It all worked out for the best for everybody," said Vines.  "I am grateful he didn't get into the sanctuary."

"We are very grateful that everything was really squashed real quick, and it was taken care of outside the building rather than inside the building," said Buchenau.  "I think officer Gray did a great job.  God's hand of protection was on us as a church.  We are really appreciative of everyone involved."

Neither Vines nor Lieutenant Jones believe Bi was intending to commit a crime against the church congregation that day.  "I don't think he (Bi) came to the church to hurt anybody.  I think he just wanted to get away," said Vines.  Jones agrees.  But tragic incidents at churches have been in the news a lot lately.  "I think most people in America … it is on their minds … with the way things have been going and some of the things that have happened here recently and in the past, you are always kind of on the lookout for something like that."

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