Botham Jean’s pastor says Amber Guyger’s conviction is proof that ‘God is in control’

Harding University, Botham Shem Jean
Students at Harding University in Arkansas remember 2016 graduate Botham Shem Jean (inset) during a candlelight vigil held at the school on Monday September 10, 2018. Jean was fatally shot inside his Dallas apartment by local police officer Amber Guyger on Thursday September 6, 2018. |

The murder conviction of Dallas County ex-police officer Amber Guyger for fatally shooting beloved worship leader Botham Jean in his apartment last year, is proof that “God is in control,” the man who served as his pastor at the time of his death says.

“This also lets us know that the God that we serve is still on the throne. God is still in control,” Dallas West Church of Christ pastor, Sammie L. Berry told CBS shortly after a jury had convicted Guyger on Tuesday.

He also said the faith community in Dallas and America at large was collectively pleased with the outcome of the case against Guyger, 31. The ex-officer claimed she shot Jean, 26, in his apartment in 2018 after mistaking his apartment for her own and told investigators she thought Jean was a burglar.

“I’d just like to say on behalf of the faith community here in Dallas in the State of Texas and also here in the U.S., and on behalf of the Dallas area preachers and church leaders, this verdict is exactly what we were looking for. I want to say thank you to the jurors, for being willing to make that tough decision,” Berry said. “I want to say thank you to the prosecutors for the excellent job that they did and now we’re just gonna move forward and continue to respond in the appropriate way.”

During the sentencing phase of Guyger's trial Wednesday to decide whether she spends five to 99 years or life in prison, Jean’s close friend, Alexis Stossel, who he met during his junior year at Harding University, a private Christian school in Searcy, Arkansas, talked about his love for sports and God.

She also wept over a text message she never sent him, CNN reported.

"Next to my husband, Botham was my absolute person," Stossel said, explaining that before she got married, she told her would-be spouse, "I love you, but this man is going to be in my life forever, and he's going to be a part of us forever."

Stossel said Jean called her "Big Tex" because of her height while he told her to call him "her black friend, Botham."

"People gravitated towards him," Stossel recalled. "It didn't matter if you didn't know him personally or you were just in the same room, you just felt welcomed by his presence."

On September 6, 2018, the day Jean died, Stossel had discussed visiting her and her husband Jacob. They exchanged photos from their time in Dallas and Harding and she told him she was getting emotional "because I'm a girl." He replied "LOL," in a text but she never saw it until it was too late the next day after he had been killed.

"I slumped to the floor and I just kept screaming, 'Wait, wait, wait, wait.' I hung up the phone and then I called Botham seven times and there was no answer," she said sobbing. "If I had just seen the text message, if I had just expanded that 'I'm thankful for you all the time,' maybe it would be a little less painful."

Reacting to the verdict in the Guyger trial on Tuesday, Harding University noted on Facebook: “Please join us in continuing to pray for the family of Botham Jean. Botham brightened our campus while he was here as a student and is still making a difference in our community and the world. We will continue to walk with his family through their grief and as they pursue justice.”

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