Be Ready for …
St. Therese the Little Flower Catholic Parish in Rapid City, South Dakota has a 2nd story balcony. On Saturday the 8th of November this year, parishioners were enjoying the 5:30 PM Mass when a 28-year-old man came in and ascended the steps to the 2nd floor balcony.
The man began singing loudly to cause an obvious disturbance, then positioned himself on top of the balcony railing from where it appeared he was going to leap to his death down into the congregational area below.
Ushers converged around him, and were able to get hold of him holding him from what they were certain was a suicidal leap, and restraining him until first responders arrived. The man was taken away for a psychological evaluation.
On 12/9/12 in Sunrise, FL a 56-year-old man waited for Sunday morning services to dismiss at the Faith Center Church where Benny Hinn was the guest speaker for the day. When his ex-girlfriend (48-year-old Denise Miller) came out he shot her two times in front of her 12-year-old daughter then turned the gun on himself. The attacker died, Miller survived.
On 11/19/13 in Las Vegas, NV A 26-year-old BYU graduate (who had battled depression for many years) shot and killed himself in the courtyard of the Mormon temple. Services were in session inside the building as he shot himself.
On 11/24/13 in Aurora, Colorado the Aurora Theater shooting was still fresh on everyone’s mind when reports of a man acting erratically with a gun came to local law enforcement. When they responded the man fled. They caught up with him at St. Paul Presbyterian Church, where the man shot himself.
On 11/26/13 in Ocean City, MD a 56-year-old frequent charity recipient bought some gasoline at a Shell station close to the St. Paul’s By The Sea Episcopal Church. 30 minutes before the church charitable food bank was to begin, he poured the gasoline all over his body, then set himself on fire and ran into the rectory. While on fire he grabbed female volunteer Dana Truitt, telling her, “you’re not going anywhere”. Truitt said, “watch me”, then forced her way out of his burning grip. Truitt was severely burned but will survive. The attacker died as did Pastor David Dingwall who succumbed to smoke inhalation while trying to save his computer in the fire.
Think About it:
Ø We are entering the “season of suicide” (November and December). These are not the only suicides and attempted suicides at churches in November and December in the last three years.
Ø Take one or two as an example at your church to discuss how you might prepare for one that would go down like one of these listed.
Ø In the Ocean City situation, the attacker had been there many times before and was well known by the charity workers at the church. Sometimes the suicide is by a total stranger and sometimes it is a staff member or congregant (or even the pastor). Be ready for just about anything.