News 12 at 6 o' clock / Sunday, July 22, 2012
BEECH ISLAND, S.C. -- The horrific mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., came far too close to home for one Beech Island family.
Mark Canipe, senior pastor at Heights Church in Clearwater, says his son was in Aurora the night of the shootings.
"He was going. He called his wife and told her he was getting to go, he was excited, and the last minute, the flight just wore him out, he was just tired, he said, 'Nah, let's just stick with the schedule and not go,'" Canipe said.
Canipe's son, Rhett Walker, was recently signed by a Christian record label. He'd been traveling the country promoting his new album when his journey led him to Colorado.
We called Walker as he was traveling back to Nashville.
"We talked about possibly going to the midnight premiere and we ended up going to IHOP instead," he told News 12's Laura Warren.
Walker's sister, Courtney Freeman, was panicked by the images she saw on the news. She tried to get in touch with him immediately on Friday morning.
"I just needed to talk with him and wasn't able to get him at first, so that was kind of nerve-wrecking," she said.
Walker's change of plans could be the reason he escaped the terror of Theatre 9, but his father thinks it was something more.
"I don't see it as coincidence. Somebody asked me yesterday, 'Isn't that crazy?' I'm like, 'No, that's not coincidence, that's God's providence,'" he said.
Freeman says, "I definitely think it was just the Lord saying, 'No, stay here that way I can use you tomorrow to be with these hurting people.'"
As chaos unfolded around them, Walker, along with another singer from his record label, wrote a song about the tragedy.
"We didn't know how to really put it into words, so we went to a storage room that they had at the radio station and ended up writing a song called 'Just Pray,'" he said.
The song has been climbing the charts ever since.
On Friday night, as thousands dealt with the turmoil from the early morning shootings, Walker led a worshp service in Colorado.
His father says, "Just an amazing time to be there at the right time and for such a time as this."
The song, "Just Pray," is free to the public. You can download your free copy here.
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