This is an edited reprint of a 2011 TAI I wrote called, “How Will you Answer?”
On October 2nd, 1900, John Gleason knocked on the door of the parochial residence of the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in Boston Massachusetts. When a church resident answered the door, Gleason asked to see Father McCarty. When Father McCarty came forward, Gleason pulled out a .44 revolver and shot him.
Gleason, who was living on state aid, said the Priest had been trying to injure him. It had been six years since he had seen the Priest, but he said he had “stood it as long as he could”.
On September 15th, 1999, Larry Ashbrook walked into the Wedgewood Baptist Church. Jeff Laster was working at the Ft. Worth Texas church and approached him, intending to ask him to put out his cigarette. Before Jeff could speak, Ashbrook shot him as he asked, “Is this where that religious meeting is going on?”
Ashbrook walked on past him, killing 7 and injuring many more, then put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger.
Journals found in his home were written ramblings complaining about encounters dating well back into the 1980’s. No connection to the church was discovered.
The LDS Church in Visalia California was between services on August 29th, 2010 when a man walked into the church asking to see leader. Someone directed him towards the office of volunteer leader Clay Sannar. Moments later several shots rang out, and Sanner was dead.
The killer was later killed in a shootout with police. He was angry at the Mormon Church for excommunicating him 16 years earlier.
Think About it…
Sanctuaries of all faiths, across the U.S., have been invaded by pure senseless evil. It could be long-festering anger from years before or misdirected insanity having nothing to do with the church. But when that angry person walks into the doors of your church, you don’t know what baggage they are carrying, or why they came.
What may sound as an innocent question to any greeter could be something far more sinister.
Be kind, open, caring, and a model of your faith. But be alert at all times, you are a sheepdog.
As Jesus told His disciples, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).
And last week’s TAI…
Passion Plus Eloquence Does Not Equal Truth
When I get busy and behind, I often just stop and play some good old country music. So, I recently turned to my favorite, Johnny Cash. It’d been some time since I’d listened to “What is Truth.” The last words are, “…you better help the voice of youth find “what is truth”.”
America missed that mandate back then, and continues to miss it today. Truth is not a commodity of value in our culture, and especially among leadership. No matter the political flavor, most of those at the top are concerned more with ideology than truth. Courtroom proceedings are more passionate persuasion than presentation of truth. Schools are platforms of indoctrination. Even the pulpit is often used to fortify social opinion more than conveying truth.
Isaiah 59:14 (NIV) says, “So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter.”
Sound like the streets of DC.
Bob Vernon (former assistant LAPD Police Chief) in his book, “LA Justice” wrote, “When wrong is defended, when right is attacked, the pillars of social structure crumble and fall.”
His perspective was the streets of LA.
It’s in the streets between LA and DC too.
One reason this hit me so hard, is that I recently attended an event where a respected, impassioned, well-meaning and articulate man pleaded with his school district to allow trained teachers and faculty to carry firearms (something I am in favor of). I really liked him and what he is doing, but in his passion he stated some things that are not correct. His persuasion was effective, and I agree with the majority of what he said and with his primary point (that schools are safer when trained responsible defenders are armed).
But, we don’t have to let unfounded opinions slip into our delivery of facts. Strong leaders often do that. When they use command presence to utter something the listener knows is not correct, it hurts their credibility.
Think About it
As security professionals we have an obligation to be truthful, along with a tendency to stand strong. Don’t ever stand on passion or opinion alone; stand firmly on truth.
Truth will always set you free. It may first embarrass, hurt, or cost you, but it is always right. It always prevails.
Truth is not a formula of “passion + eloquence.”
Lead with truth.
And last week’s TAI…
Few Headlines Include the Word Security.
I was interviewed recently for a documentary being filmed about Christians dealing with evil. Towards the end of that interview, the host asked me a question about the attack at New Life on 12/09/2007.
He asked, “How would the story have read if New Life hadn’t had security?”
Now I’ve thought a lot about things that could have been different that day. What if one of us had been right there when he pulled that A/R out of his car? What if we had got to him just as he started shooting outside?
The last pages of my book, “Evil Invades Sanctuary,” suggest other possibilities. But I’d never pondered no security at all.
Let’s start where the first two security team members first saw the killer. As Buck and Dave were moving up the hallway (unarmed) towards the possible sounds of gunfire, that hallway had kids in it. When they saw the killer, they turned around and cleared kids out of there. 27 bullet holes in walls as Dave and Buck cleared it and in the moments following. Yet, not one child was hurt inside our building.
So, let’s take Buck and Dave completely out of the scene. The first thing different would have been a killer, who had already killed 4, coming down a hallway with multiple targets.
Children. That is one word that would have been different in those headlines. Then there would have been their names and conditions.
Neither Jeanne Assam nor I would have been armed in the hallway. The hallway he was coming down leads to the sanctuary where many, including my own wife and daughter were.
Think about it…
That killer had blogged, “Christian America, this is your Columbine,” and, “I WILL be armed to the teeth, and I WILL shoot to kill and I WILL KILL EVERYTHING!”
He had a Bushmaster A/R 15 modified to 6.8 MM, more smoke grenades, 2 handguns and 1,400 rounds of ammo when he died. How many more would have died had there been no security?
I don’t know. None of us do. But I am sure the headlines would have traded the word “security” for “children.” I’m glad we didn’t trade readiness for whatever those headlines may have been.
One thing you can get, with absolutely no planning, is captivating headlines.
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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SECURITY!? IN A CHURCH?