It was a normal Wednesday as Pastor Tamarkus Cook drove by St. Smryna Baptist Church. He noticed a truck sitting in the driveway of a house next-door - one owned by the church.
So, he decided to stop.
"I wanted to ask them for whatever purposes they had here if they would kindly move their business along elsewhere," he said.
Cook has been with St. Smryna for 7 years and recently the home the church purchased next-door has been vandalized several times. Cook, afraid the property would be tagged or torn up, hoped the man would move along without any confrontation.
That didn't happen.
"As he was coming toward me, I asked why was he here," Cook said. "His exact response was, 'Who are you, the effing security?'"
That's when things quickly became violent.
"So, he starts approaching and I'm just backing slowly, trying to get away and the gentleman literally just lunges from about five feet away and lunges at me and grabs me by my jacket and drives his head into my face as hard as he could," Cook said. "I mean it sent me - we were standing on the pavement at the point of contact - and I ended up on the grass somewhere."
The pastor took a second to make a quick joke while recounting his story.
"While I am an extremely large individual with extremely large muscles, my goal was to be peaceful," said the 5 foot 10 inch, thin, well-dressed preacher.
Cook described the attacker as a large man, at least 6 feet tall, 250 to 300 pounds, white, balding with partial red hair on his head. He added the man's eyes were glossy and said he was lucky the head-butt didn't knock him unconscious.
"Had I passed out and become unconscious, he could have killed me," Cook said.
However, the pastor managed to maintain enough composure to reach into his pocket where his pistol was waiting.
"As he was coming toward me still, I went into my jacket pocket and discharged it into the air," he said.
Cook fired two to three shots into the air, sending the stranger scrambling to his truck - described as a gray Ford F-150. Cook did not aim and fire at his attacker because, he said, God was on his side.
"The Lord said to me in that moment, 'This is not how we respond'."
The attacker drove off and is still at-large. Cook was taken to the hospital where he received 12 stitches in his right eye. Right now, he has a few facial fractures, a bruise and is light-sensitive. He will have to have surgery to make sure his eye doesn't shift during the recovery process.
As a man of God, Cook said he has no ill-will toward the attacker.
"I forgave him the moment he laid hands on me," he said.
Cook said he is happy to be alive and grateful to hold his wife and children after such an ordeal. He's also happy the attacker is also still breathing after their encounter.
However, Cook believes the man could be a danger to himself or the community and has one simple request.
"I would honestly like for him to turn himself in. Turning himself in to face responsibility for such a cowardly act would really speak volumes of his own character," he said. "Perhaps he had a moment of misjudgment, perhaps he was under the influence of drug and made a decision that he himself would regret."
Pastor Cook said he won't pretend to be a security guard ever again and apologizes to his community for firing his gun. Cook will return to services on Sunday.