DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Thomas McNichols described as a protector, leader and hero was laid to rest on Monday. During a funeral service at St. Luke’s Missionary Baptist Church, friends and family of the 25-year-old honored him with songs, poems, and heart-felt speeches.
“His flesh may be deceased but his spirit yet lives through Christ, because of Christ and now with Christ,” Pastor Renard Allen said.
McNichols was one of nine victims killed in the Oregon District shooting on Aug. 4.
Known as TJ to those closest to him, his father once worked at the church where his service was held.
“They’re like family to those members who were here during their most active time,” Allen said.
Leaving behind four children, several speakers at the service noted how good of a father McNichols was.
“This was a young man who was not in any wrong doing. At the time, just enjoying a simple night out,” Allen said.
While the family mourns, Pastor Allen said it will take time to heal.
“To expect an instantaneus healing is irrational and unhealthy,” Allen said.
Pastor Allen said McNichols was failed by current policies. He hopes the tragedy of his loss can be a catalyst for change in gun and mental health policies.
“We must do something through voting, paying attention to proposed legislation and holding our elected officials accountable,” Allen said
To heal, he says individuals must take personal actions too.
“We have to be willing to participate in our healing. We cannot be passive and expect to be healed. We must take the necessary steps,” Allen said.
Along with more than 300 family and friends, Governor Mike DeWine also paid his respects by attending the service. Mayor Nan Whaley alone with other local officials also attended.
Pastor Allen also sent a message for those still struggling to make sense of the tragedy.
“Where help is available, healing is possible. And when healing is possible, hope is believable,” Allen said.