Local churches address security concerns following Texas mass shooting

Local churches address questions about security following the mass shooting at a baptist church in Sutherland Springs, TX on Sunday.

Posted: Nov 6, 2017 11:07 PM

EUGENE, Ore. - Following the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX, local churches are addressing questions about security and safety.

Pastor John Luther looks over Hope Lutheran Church in Springfield and Christ Lutheran Church in Veneta. He said when he thinks about the 26 people who were shot and killed on Sunday, the tragedy hits close to home.

"We have about 25 people there that show up in Veneta on a Sunday. That number (26 people killed) would devastate our entire church. It would be gone," said Luther.

Luther said currently, they do not have specific security protocol in place yet because their building is used for various community functions. But it is something he is now considering.

Pastor Brian King with Harvest Community Church found out about the shooting during Sunday service.

"When I heard about it, it was during service. I actually stepped out, walked the exterior of the campus, tried to make sure things were fine. But in my heart, I found myself just heartbroken and praying for those folks in Texas," said King.

King said it's unfortunate, but active shooter scenarios are nothing new. His church reached out to the Eugene Police Department (EPD) about a year ago for guidance on security.

"We have three buildings, a lot of doors and so if we needed to be in lockdown, how easy is that? How difficult is that? If we needed to evacuate the property, how would we handle that? Where would we go? Those are all things EPD gave us some direct advice about," said King.

Harvest Community Church has surveillance cameras, which were installed after cases of vandalism on their campus. King said there are some members who take initiative to be more vigilant and observant for the church. He said his church has considered conducting drills to prep members for all types of emergencies, including fires in addition to active shooter scenarios.

"Our leadership team has worked on policies and procedures, kind of a manual of sorts to give us direction on who we should rely on to help us in an incident like that," said King.

Sgt. Bill Solesbee with EPD said at the end of the day, community members should have a plan too such as the "Run, Hide, Fight" strategy.
- Run: Have an escape route and plan in mind, leave your belongings behind, and keep your hands visible
- Hide: Hide in an area out of the shooter's view, block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors, silence your cell phone and/or pager
- Fight: As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to incapacitate the shooter, act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter

"If you get caught into a situation like that, you want to be able to react quickly and not just be stunned by the event. Those few seconds of making a decision of whether you run, whether you seek shelter, or whether you fight back...those few seconds...you aren't going to get back and it's crucial for your life," said Sgt. Solesbee.

He said the best way for someone to prepare for an active shooter situation is to be aware of where you are and to have an exit plan in the case you need to escape.

For more information about the Run, Hide, Fight strategy, click here.

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