Members of the Mosheim Church of God in Tennessee mourned the loss of their pastor, Kenneth Cook, on Sunday, who died along with his 16-year-old step-daughter, Teagan Welch, and Teagan’s biological father, Christopher Ray Welch, 48, after a domestic-related shooting in White Pine at a Pilot gas station.
Police are still investigating the shooting. However, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office told WVLT News that the Jan. 3 event stemmed from a custody drop-off between the pastor’s wife and Teagan’s father, who were meeting to change custody of their child.
Cook was installed as the pastor of Mosheim Church of God in June 2018, according to The Greenville Sun. Cook and his wife, Shannon, who are veterans, and Teagan relocated from Cleveland, Tennessee. Teagan’s father is also a veteran.
Teagan’s father died at the scene of the shooting on Jan. 3, while she died days later last Thursday. Police said Pastor Cook died on Saturday.
“Mr. Cook was a great man,” church member and friend Jeff Hale told WJHL. “Anything that you needed, he would drop everything to come and help you. He never met a stranger. He was a leader in the church, we loved that man.
“I know he was in the Army, and his wife was in the Air Force. That makes him an upstanding person. We’ve got to respect people who serve in our military,” Hale added.
When he heard that his pastor was shot, Hale said he couldn’t believe it.
“I thought, ‘Oh Lord, what went on?’” he said. “If you knew our pastor, you would’ve never thought anything like that would’ve happened to him.”
Teagan was an 11th-grade student at Greeneville High School in the Greeneville City School District, where she was mourned after the shooting.
“Teagan was a standout member of the Pride of the Greene Devils Band and a cherished member of the GHS Bowling Team,” the school district said in a statement to News 5.
“Numerous supports have been put into place for GHS students, faculty, and staff as they grieve this tremendous loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Teagan’s family and friends.”
An obituary for Christopher Ray Welch described him as a “loving father,” veteran and member of the Baptist faith.
“He joined the United States Army in 1992. Chris was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd group Special Forces as a demolition/engineer sergeant. He later served as a Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Instructor,” it said.
He also served in Bosnia during 1998 and 1999 before working with the Department of Homeland Security as a federal agent and lead training specialist for the Office of Secure Transportation.
“Chris enjoyed spending time on the water with his friends and daughter. He was a talented woodworker and of the Baptist faith. He was a loving father to his daughter Teagan Welch,” the obituary said.
The pastor’s wife survived the shooting.