This section is updated every Sunday morning to give church security teams some things to think about as they prepare for weekend services. I wish your team the very best and hope you may find occasional things applicable to your operations.

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The Charleston SC Emanuel AME Church massacre Overview


Part II of III – The Attack



I sat out to write about Charleston in two articles; Pre-attack and the attack. But the more I have read about the incredible people of Charleston, I have decided that just won’t do. This is the 2nd of the series, detailing relative information on the attack itself.


But due to the tremendous character of the survivors and family members of the deceased, this story could not be complete without telling of what happened after the attack.  That will be next week.


This week we look at the attack itself from a security point of view. It is still too early to assume the following details are 100% accurate. It takes time for all the misinformation in such an incident to wash away leaving a pure picture. I am certain little of this will be a surprise to you – it’s just capturing the facts in a way we can consider them at our own churches and ministries.


Bozo Thug (the only name the killer is worthy of being known by) walked into the open door of the Emanuel AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church at just about 8:00 PM, Wednesday evening, June 17th, 2015. He was wearing non-distinct clothing but did have a fanny pack.


Bozo asked for the pastor first thing. He was promptly introduced to pastor Clementa Pinckney who then led him downstairs and into a small classroom where 10 other adults and one child were assembling around a conference table. The main Wednesday evening service had ended, and this meeting downstairs was an after service bible study tradition.


It was at the close of the larger service, that congregant Tywanza Sanders sent a quote of Jackie Robinson out from his cell phone, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”


Bozo took a seat right next to Pastor Pinkney where he remained until about 9:05 PM (close to, if not over an hour). At that time he pulled his .45 Glock from his fanny pack and shot and killed Pastor Pinkney.


Pinkney’s wife was in another room in the church with their 11-year-old daughter. She heard the shots and quickly locked the door to the room they were in, and propped a chair against the door.


26-year-old Sanders was in the bible study room and came to his feet pleading with the killer to stop, trying to talk him down.


Thug replied, “No you have raped our women and are taking over our country. I have to do what I have to do”. Bozo then pointed his gun at Sander’s own great aunt and Tywanza moved between them to protect her.


Both were shot dead – Tywanza the youngest victim that night and his great aunt the oldest.


Tywanza’s mother (Felicia Sanders) was shot at some point, but fell close to her 5-year-old granddaughter whom she hid from the killer with her body. She reportedly lay (trying to look dead) where her own son’s blood reached her as she watched him die.


9 of the 11 adults in the room died. In order of age, these are the 9;


Tywanza Sanders. 26-years-old.


Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney. 41-years-old.


Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. 45-years-old.


Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor. 49-years-old.


Cynthia Hurd. 54-years-old.


Myra Thompson. 59-years-old.


Ethel Lance. 70-years-old.


Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr. 74-years-old.


Susie Jackson. 87-years-old.


When Thug had finished killing, he stood over 69-year-old Polly Sheppard. He said vulgar racial things to her then explained to her that he wasn’t going to kill her as he wanted her to tell the story.


At that point he allegedly put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger. But it did not go off, so he just left.


Due to good video cameras, police not only got a good description of him but good images of his vehicle. Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen released the vehicle description to the public at about 10:30 AM the morning after the killings.


Even with the good video, a Federal law enforcement agent threw an inaccurate curve ball into the mix by indicating the suspect in the video may have been wearing a wig, a fake nose, and may have died his skin. That was all wrong, it was just natural ugliness.


As members of the official state police SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) operated out of the command center at the church, 250 miles to the north at about 11:30 AM Thug was spotted in Shelby, NC. A florist by the name of Debbie Dills was late to work when she saw Thug setting next to her at a stoplight, recognized him and his black Hyundai from the released information, and called police.  


South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was at the scene when news came that Thug had been captured. He was 250 miles away and the SLED team had no available air support for a hasty transfer. Governer Haley told them to take her plane – which they did in order to get him back soon after he was allowed extradition.


His trial is scheduled to begin on July 11th, 2016.


Think About it:


Ø Emanuel AME Church is a well-known and historic church in the area. It is well known for being on the cutting edge of the civil rights movement. The simple truth is that, like other churches and ministries, it can be a lightning rod for those opposed to its message.


Ø  Thug was out of place. Enough so that Tywanza Sanders at some point sneaked a picture of him seated at the table before the killing started. He was a classic DLR (Don’t Look Right). Churches reach out to societal DLR’s. I didn’t look right 35 years ago when I came to the Lord. But some of those DLRs will kill you. Educate yourselves on body language.


Ø Churches don’t find it easy at all to ban backpacks and / or fanny packs. People are going to carry them in. Observing how they handle them is key. I highly suspect Thug would have been having his hands next to it at all times, probably fidgeting with it.


Ø Thug reloaded 5 times.


Ø There is a mental image conjured by the media of a church looking like airport security with uniformed guards and metal detectors as the only option to stop this kind of barbarism. Such images only speak of the ignorance of those who do not understand effective security. Tywanza Sanders is the model of what we look for in potential church security operators. A man who simply had protection in his DNA. Good church security gives men and women like Tywanza Sanders a little training (and hopefully some tools to use) so they can be effective in their prevention of, or response to an attack.


The Charleston SC Emanuel AME Church massacre Overview






While there remains a lot we won’t know until after the trial (which has been set to begin on July 11, 2016) the following are relevant discoveries applicable for church security operators and law enforcement. The case is understandably charged with an extraordinary amount of emotions.


The name of the killer isn’t worth the ink to correctly capture. The name means nothing to us anyway – so for this report it is simply, “Bozo Thug”. There are more where he came from – their reasons and methods will be different – their names will be the same.


This report is in two sections; Pre Attack and Attack. This week will be the Pre-Attack summary.


You will not find much compassion in my summary. I am glad the people who matter the most in all if this – the victim families – chose to forgive him. That is the right thing for them to do. We however are security operators, and to consider his case comes with a certain coldness and detachment that allows us to deal with the minority of our society who choose to attack those we love. It’s a Sheepdog thing.


Bozo Thug’s mother was from a good home but made bad decisions. She divorced Thug’s dad but obviously stayed in some sort of relationship with him because Bozo was born in 1994, three years after their divorce. He became a druggie who hung out with druggies. If they were all reading this they would be protesting, “Hey man – it was mostly just weed.”


So now you have a picture of him and his friends.


He was known to be a ball-faced liar. From the accounts I read he was a mindless zero, an anchorless 9th grade failure and drop-out known to set on the curb in front of his house for long periods of time doing nothing but occasionally moving to another curb.


At some point he discovered the internet. His stepmother observed him staying alone in his room for hours and his real mother just didn’t know what was happening to him. Really?


One of the things he discovered was a means of inciting others through some sort of identity he was hap heartedly searching for. Among other causes, there is plenty of white supremacy to be found with a mouse-click. So among other things, he found that as a shallow pool to put out one of his little anchors.


What is in his face book pictures reveals less about the objects than it does the mindless miscreant who posted them. Yes he connected with white supremacy with the same brain power that made him love cocaine (which his weed use led him to).


His circle of friends sometimes heard him speaking of some kind of big thing. He wanted to do something to get noticed. He got kicked out of the Columbiana Centre Mall for acting strange, including enquiries about staff quantities and quitting times at some of the stores. He was served a trespass notice then arrested again later for violating that trespass order.


With money his dad had given him for his birthday, Bozo went to a purchase a Glock model 41, .45 ACP from an area retail store on 4/11/15. The required background check stalled due to a data entry error regarding a discovery of drug use as recorded in an arrest by the Columbia, SC Police Department.


Somewhere along the paper trail that arrest was incorrectly recorded as being by the Lexington County, SC Sheriff’s office. So, as with any bureaucracy, the FBI background check that should have taken minutes, ended up spanning days.


By SC law (which may now change), when the background check is not complete within 3 days the transaction is allowed to go through. When Thug returned on 4/16, the background was still inconclusive, so the sale went through.


Just one week before the attack on the church, Thug talked about going to the local College of Charleston and shooting some of their 12,000 students. He had earlier mentioned another school, so this threat was blown off by Thug’s friends as another  vodka-induced rambling (Thug was known for his vodka and ramblings).


Part of the reason his threats were blown off however, was that one of the friends Thug had mentioned this to had actually hidden Bozo’s new gun to prevent him from doing something stupid. But that friend later gave it back due to his own probation which could have gotten him in trouble had he been discovered with a gun. Have I mentioned the character of friends Thug hung out with?


Bozo’s friends said they heard him talk about wanting to create a race war too. It wasn’t even that he really hated blacks – he had many black friends through his years. But he wrote a 2500 word manifesto on the subject that he posted on his website. It was perhaps the most engaged thing Bozo ever did.


And the real problem was security. The mall had noticed him, stopped him, and served him. The schools had obvious security. The only thing Bozo feared (not because of bravery – just simply due to brain capacity) was failure.


So he set his sights on a defenseless environment. A soft target that had with it a component for expansive news coverage. His next choice was a small bible study gathering in a church.



Think About it:


Ø Some said he was “too smart” for normal societal interaction as a young boy. No, in fact labeling someone as “extra smart” is an excuse used by the parents of others like him to dismiss parental intervention and hard work when a kid does what kids do – nothing. Nothing will turn into something and without good parental guidance it usually isn’t good.


Ø I am sorry this reflects poorly on the parents. But it is a fact of life. Parenting isn’t easy. It is the toughest job any of us have ever done or will ever do. Success in this activity always comes remarkable grace – none of us did it all correctly. But the fact of the matter is that many fail at it. Parenting is like other things in that it takes prayer and grace, but not only prayer and grace – it takes hard work. Parents who want to ascribe to non-disciplinary absenteeism have ownership in the problem created.


Ø Legislation and school programs are not substitutes for sound parenting. Everybody reading this needs to take their own responsibilities in this arena very seriously. If you are spending any time volunteering in security and you have young children in your home who are starting to exhibit problematic behavior you need to cease every volunteer effort you are doing and focus on your home. It is time everyone takes responsibility for their own home. Why should we even have to say that?


Ø Our society wants us to focus on everything else except effective parenting. Society says it’s a federal issue (meaning we need political leaders elected) or it’s a school issue (meaning more dollars for education). Modern media convinces us that we aren’t capable of managing our own children. The government or the school needs to tell us what food is best for them, what history they should hear, and what belief system they should be founded on. That is simply the shirking of parental duty.


Ø If you still have time to be on the security team after making sure your own house is in order, then you can look around your church to see if any friends or relatives of Bozo Thug are around you. There are plenty of them in our society. Empty-eyed mindless little rats looking for an opportunity to get their name in the paper.


Ø I warned you there wouldn’t be much compassion in this subject.