Something To Think About In An Active Shooter Scenario


Treo

Bullet Proof
On September 11 a nationally known evangelist spoke at our church. I was talking to a friend of mine from church today and he told me that on that Sunday our Pastor had asked the guy that is in charge of security for the church to pick a number of members of our congregation and ask them to come to service that day armed. This was pretty much just a precaution and, of course, nothing happened.

Now in addition to this group of armed security volunteers I happen to know of at least 4 people in my church who carry who were not members of that group.

Now here’s my question
1.The armed volunteers had no training as a team that I am aware of. I am certain that men were picked who had some previous training and experience but as far as I know they were simply stationed at various places in the church and told to "keep an eye out.” In fact I know of at least one of them who didn't even have a permit

2. The group of concealed carriers was not aware, to my knowledge, that the group of volunteers existed.

Now supposing something had happened what happens when the carriers group (or any member there of) draws their weapon in response to a threat? Or one of the security volunteers draws and is perceived by a carrier as a threat or vice versa? I am aware that this has never happened but I would think that this would be an environment ripe for it. Especially given that this is an awfully high number of people carrying a concealed weapon in a given location.

Suppose you were in the church and an attack was made; would it be better for you to just hole up and not get involved because of the confusion that could be generated by three armed groups (Attacker(s), carriers and volunteers) operating at the same time? It also occurrs to me that there may have been another group in the mix if the evanglist had an armed security detail w/ him.

FWIW My wife and I sit in the back right next to an exit door and my first response to any type of attack would very likely be to hustle my wife out the side door.
 

jg1967

New member
On September 11 a nationally known evangelist spoke at our church. I was talking to a friend of mine from church today and he told me that on that Sunday our Pastor had asked the guy that is in charge of security for the church to pick a number of members of our congregation and ask them to come to service that day armed. This was pretty much just a precaution and, of course, nothing happened.

Now in addition to this group of armed security volunteers I happen to know of at least 4 people in my church who carry who were not members of that group.

Now here’s my question
1.The armed volunteers had no training as a team that I am aware of. I am certain that men were picked who had some previous training and experience but as far as I know they were simply stationed at various places in the church and told to "keep an eye out.” In fact I know of at least one of them who didn't even have a permit

2. The group of concealed carriers was not aware, to my knowledge, that the group of volunteers existed.

Now supposing something had happened what happens when the carriers group (or any member there of) draws their weapon in response to a threat? Or one of the security volunteers draws and is perceived by a carrier as a threat or vice versa? I am aware that this has never happened but I would think that this would be an environment ripe for it.Especially given that this is an awfully high number of people carrying a concealed weapon in a given location.

Suppose you were in the church and an attack was made; would it be better for you to just hole up and not get involved because of the confusion that could be generated by three armed groups (Attacker(s), carriers and volunteers) operating at the same time?

FWIW My wife and I sit in the back right next to an exit door and my first response to any type of attack would very likely be to hustle my wife out the side door.

Knowing you I can be sure they did not have any badges or CCW banners or you would probably have shot them yourself, just kidding.

IMHO something like this only makes sense if the armed folks can identify each other, otherwise it's a recipe for disaster.
 

Treo

Bullet Proof
Knowing you I can be sure they did not have any badges or CCW banners or you would probably have shot them yourself, just kidding.

IMHO something like this only makes sense if the armed folks can identify each other, otherwise it's a recipe for disaster.

On the night the night of Sept 11 I was completely unaware that this was going on. Given the situation and knowing what I know now I would be much less likely to get involved if something happened today for instance because I really wouldn't know who the players were (unless it was obvious like the shooter was wearing a trench coat and body armor and carrying an AR)
 

Hoganbeg

Member
Wow! Good question. I think your instinct to hustle you and yours out the door is your best personal move. For the concealed carrier it doesn't really change anything as for you the issues are the same anywhere you go: you don't know who else is armed and might perceive you as part of the threat. Unless I was sitting next to/behind the guy and had a once-in-a-life-time sure-thing opportunity to end it right then I'd probably still go for escape.

It still begs the question of how the security team should respond though. Not knowing who was on the security team and what their training level is, it's difficult to assess the situation. Could be what you really had was a group of armed individuals. I think a debriefing would be in order with the head of security.
A pie-in-the-sky idea might be for the church to consider sending the security chief (a one-man department?) to a professional training class on how to respond to just such a scenario. Then, he would have the knowledge to make the best use of any ad-hoc team he could throw together; hopefully with any LEO members. The things that leap immediately to mind are:

1) Fields of fire issues.
2) The more people who are able to escape the situation, the clearer it would be who the bad guy(s)are.
3) Is this a situation where a sniper position could be set up?
4) Some Como is always good to have but might not be doable in this situation.

I'm interested to hear from some of our LEOs here what their thoughts are. It sounds like a big mess.
 

Treo

Bullet Proof
For the concealed carrier it doesn't really change anything as for you the issues are the same anywhere you go: you don't know who else is armed and might perceive you as part of the threat.

This is true but, as I pointed out in the OP, the issue is exacerbated by the fact that there were minimumally 9 to 15 people carrying weapons in a relatively small area that day.

Unless I was sitting next to/behind the guy and had a once-in-a-life-time sure-thing opportunity to end it right then I'd probably still go for escape.
True

I think a debriefing would be in order with the head of security.

If you are talking about me just walking up and sticking my finger in this guy's Kool Aid, the answer is no.
He's a former Marine and he knows every thing there possibly is to know about church security and if you don't believe me just ask him.

A pie-in-the-sky idea might be for the church to consider sending the security chief (a one-man department?) to a professional training class on how to respond to just such a scenario.
New Life Church (Google NLC shooting) offers just such a class to pass on their lessons learned. That said, still not my place to suggest it.
Is this a situation where a sniper position could be set up?

Please tell me that's not a serious question

Some Como is always good to have but might not be doable in this situation.

Radio shack earpiece radios, same thing I wore in the sound booth so the nursery ladies could call me to put up the number for parents who were needed in the nursery

I'm interested to hear from some of our LEOs here what their thoughts are.

I'd like to hear the cops take on your sniper idea
 

Providence Ranch

New member
I believe it was horribly irresponsible of the pastor to covertly solicit individuals to carry unbeknownst to the rest of the congregation. This, as you pointed out, sets up opportunities for all kinds of confusion if/when BG shows up. But such is the case with knee-jerk decisions.

A more sensible and security-minded approach would be to have openly solicited the congregation for a meeting of all members who might be interested in being part of a security team for the church, and then holding meetings. First, to identify interested individuals, and what each has to offer. Then to set expectations and limitations. Having such a group sponsored.by a local PD or SO would be best, so that clear lines can be drawn between what actions are appropriate for citizenry, and what actions might be best handled by law enforcement (effecting arrest, chasing a fleeing felon, etc.). The issue of who carries a weapon should be left to individual choice, but known within the group.

Following this, the congregation should know that there is a group of members acting in this capacity, so that there are fewer surprises. I don't believe publishing a list of who is in the group, who carries a firearm, who is a LEO, etc., would be wise. But keeping the existence of the group a.secret entirely is unwise as well.

Knowing churches as I do, there will be heated debate about the existence of such a group. But churches operate democratically, so it will depend on those with the brains, common sense and education to defend sensibility.

This is a huge topic and a fantastic question. I look forward to hearing other responses.
 

disneyr

New member
Similar situations happen all the time for law enforcement too. You have uniformed cops from multiple jurisdictions, undercover cops, random undercover agents, armed civilians and armed bad guys. I'm reminded of a scene from the movie "In the Line of Fire" where Clint Eastwood says something like "Hell, if someone takes a shot, with all the guns in here, we'll probably be killed in the crossfire."

Yet in most shooting incidents the majority of potential shooters cower or run away leaving very few actual shooters. The one who initiates shooting, shoots many rounds and keeps shooting in random directions can be quickly identified as the attacker/bad guy. Then the one who can get control of his faculties and stop the threat if possible, does so.
 

walt629

New member
The pastor put you, your family and everyone else in the congregation into a situation that could have gone deadly in a matter of minutes. All it would have taken is an untrained, armed "volunteer" to miss interept an action or reaction of someone in the congregation to create a deadly scene.

I am not a 'sheepdog' (discussion for another thread) so I would be prone to evade and evacuate. Get my family out safely under any circumstance.

Personally, knowing what you now know, you should be all over the pastor about his very poor choice regardless of his good intentions!
 

Treo

Bullet Proof
Personally, knowing what you now know, you should be all over the pastor about his very poor choice regardless of his good intentions!

I guess I'm not following you. If he put the congregation at risk by having an approved and picked team of men that he trusted (and who likely are armed at church most of the time anyway) armed at church that night, how do I not endanger the congregation every time I show up w/ a gun?
 

Iam2Taz

New member
That was a mess waiting to happen.
The pastor should have already known he has a security team. - Just like our church. - In MO you "are supposed to" have permission to carry in the building. For our church that means, you go to the pastor and he hooks you up with the security person. That person "qualifies" you. i.e. Takes you to the range for some practice and discussion. If you are approved, he introduces you to the rest of the team and confirms your area in the church and your job if something happens. It is quite a process. In my humble opinion it is worth it for the safety of everyone in the building. I certainly don't want to be shot by one of the deacons, nor do I want to shoot one of them!
Yet, I am positive there is at least two other persons carrying at church without permission.

The sheer liability of the situation is unreal. While a lot of people may duck and run, there may be a significant number drawing weapons and someone will get hurt out side of the BGs. I guess the pastor needs to fire the security team or have faith that he will add people for the occasion.

In answer to above..
Treo - The pastor put everyone in jeopardy because he didn't trust the team he had in place. By inviting others as a "quasi additional security team" he put the other team, who didn't know, at risk as well as those in the building. The fact that you carry is not a problem unless you draw your weapon if something happens. If you draw, you could become a target for both teams. - Just my thoughts.
 

Treo

Bullet Proof
That was a mess waiting to happen.
The pastor should have already known he has a security team. - Just like our church. - In MO you "are supposed to" have permission to carry in the building. For our church that means, you go to the pastor and he hooks you up with the security person. That person "qualifies" you. i.e. Takes you to the range for some practice and discussion. If you are approved, he introduces you to the rest of the team and confirms your area in the church and your job if something happens. It is quite a process. In my humble opinion it is worth it for the safety of everyone in the building. I certainly don't want to be shot by one of the deacons, nor do I want to shoot one of them!
Yet, I am positive there is at least two other persons carrying at church without permission.

The sheer liability of the situation is unreal. While a lot of people may duck and run, there may be a significant number drawing weapons and someone will get hurt out side of the BGs. I guess the pastor needs to fire the security team or have faith that he will add people for the occasion.

(EDIT by Treo In Colorado no permission is needed)


In answer to above..
Treo - The pastor put everyone in jeopardy because he didn't trust the team he had in place. By inviting others as a "quasi additional security team" he put the other team, who didn't know, at risk as well as those in the building. The fact that you carry is not a problem unless you draw your weapon if something happens. If you draw, you could become a target for both teams. - Just my thoughts.

First let me say that I am not privy to the day to day operations of the security team. In fact I would just about bet that my friend overstepped his bounds by telling me that he was carrying that day and that such a team even existed.

Having said that, it is my understanding that this was a special occurrence and armed security, other than one guy who unofficially hangs out on the foyer and keeps an eye on the approaches to the children’s church area, is not the norm for this church. I was decided that it should be done because it was 9/11 and we had the special event.

So there weren’t two different security teams that were unaware of each other’s existence. What was in place was a handpicked security team that on one that wasn’t involved knew about.
 

Hoganbeg

Member
You know this brings up a number of things.
Security is a broad topic. What type of security are we talking about? Internal? External? Loss prevention? Crowd control? Perimeter? What combination? I'm not trying to be a smartass here but to illustrate a point. What type does this security team normally do? Probably not active shooter interdiction or special additions would not have to be made-they would already be in place and routine.

The whole idea of a Team, of course, is that everybody has a specific area of responsibility. The team has trained together and each member knows his job and can rely on others knowing and doing theirs. In the case of a church where the structural layout remains the same the team has the advantage of being able to maximise and fine tune their plan ahead of time. Any new team member is an unknown who could be a help but more likely is going to be a hinderence to the team acting effectively.
The only place I could see using such additional people would be as eyes and ears (and arms)outside the building on the approaches and in the parking areas; the idea being to interdict before the shooter gains access to the crowd. In fact, during the service, outside the building is where I would want to have a second team.

Regarding the idea of a sniper, if I thought there was a chance of an active hostile, why wouldn't I want a qualified shooter and a place to put him? If the right vantage point was available it's quite possible that a trained sniper would have the best chance of removing the threat.

Regarding a debriefing, it may not be your place to suggest it, but it needs to occurr or the security team is not using best practices. I'm not suggesting that they haven't debriefed. I'm just saying it's on the have-to-do list.

Finally, all of these things may in fact have been done, fact is, we don't know; and that takes us back to your original question: what should YOU do? My answer? Get out of the kill zone and take one or two others with you.

P.S. Well done, sitting by an exit.
 

Treo

Bullet Proof
Regarding the idea of a sniper, if I thought there was a chance of an active hostile, why wouldn't I want a qualified shooter and a place to put him? If the right vantage point was available it's quite possible that a trained sniper would have the best chance of removing the threat.

I am almost positive that setting up your own sniper overwatch would be illegal.

Regarding a debriefing, it may not be your place to suggest it, but it needs to occurr or the security team is not using best practices. I'm not suggesting that they haven't debriefed. I'm just saying it's on the have-to-do list.

I agree but I will likely never know if it happened.


P.S. Well done, sitting by an exit.

To be fair we picked that spot because A.) I was working graves at the time and ,since I went straight from work to church,I was prone to nodding off (We figured it would be less disruptive if I was all the way in the back)

and B.) the other side of the sanctuary is a glass wall so that people can sit in the atrium and drink coffe and listen to the sermon if they are so inclined. Sitting in front of that wall gave me the creeps. So, we moved to the other side where it's a real wall.

So, I can't take credit for my tactical genius
 

G50AE

Well-known member
Your church needs a "minister of tactical considerations". The security team can be issued badges, shotguns, tazers, body armor, and comm gear. You might also want an equestrian officer for patroling around the parking lot. While a canine officer might seem like a good idea to prevent gang members from smuggling drugs into the church services, I think more range time for the security team would be better from a cost/benefit standpoint.
 

walt629

New member
I guess I'm not following you. If he put the congregation at risk by having an approved and picked team of men that he trusted (and who likely are armed at church most of the time anyway) armed at church that night, how do I not endanger the congregation every time I show up w/ a gun?

But that was the issue Treo, The guys that were asked at the last minute to come to worship armed were not regular members of the security team. That's where I saw the problem.

Not knowing how the additions would react under a stess condition of some nutball charging the visiting dignitary is the worry I would have. Now if these additions have trained for this kind of duty before and have acted as a tem previously, then I retract my statement. If the additions got no indoctrination as to what to expect and how to react in the event of an arising problem, then there is a problem waiting to be unleashed.

If you're the kind of guy that starts shooting at the first sign of panic from the masses then I would say you would be a danger to the congregation when you show up with a gun. The question is "are you that kind of armed citizen?" If not then I'd say you're no more of a danger than the normal, trained security team members.

The whole key to my objection were the additional guys that were brought on for the occasion and are not part of the security team. Hopefully they got some time to train with the full time security team prior to the big event.
 

tuts40

New member
Walt269 said it well. I'd like to also agree with the other posters also who feel some organization needs to take place with any church security team, or any 'team' for that matter. It just makes sense to have the guys meet and discuss thier roles, communications, scenario planning/practice, etc. Also, the training should help each member of the team to understand the need for discretion, and also the risks involved when/if defending against active shooters. And for heavens sake (no pun intended) let's hope these guys have some handgun training and I mean more than the run-of-the-mill, non-stress shooting CCW class anyway!
 

Treo

Bullet Proof
It wasn’t my intent to hold back any information for this scenario but I see how I could have communicated the situation much more clearly. So, here is every thing I know.

The evangelist (or guest speaker if you prefer) is a name guy. I didn’t mention his name because I didn’t want to start a debate about whether or not he’s legitimate. That said I am certain he could afford his own security and he may have had his own security there. If he did I am going to assume 1 or 2 body guards whose main duty in an emergency would be to grab him and get him out of there. (There is an exit right behind the pulpit.)

The church was expecting between one and three thousand attendees (in three separate auditoriums) of which about a third would have been regular members and maybe three or four hundred from the adjoining Bible College. So, maybe 1500 people that are not regular attendees.

The church is in an industrial area and had made arrangements to use parking lots from neighboring businesses.

An announcement was made that they would be needing extra help w/ parking and ushering no mention was made of armed security. I assume that the armed security was picked from that group but, I don’t know that for sure.

This is an opinion but given my friend was one of the people picked for armed security I’m not entirely comfortable w/ the sound judgment of the person that did the picking.

Now, if I were in charge I would have handled it like this:

I would have uniformed all my security people in a distinct uniform that no one else would be likely to be wearing. ( reflective vests for the parking guys). Maybe a brightly colored vest labled "STAFF"

Assuming three parking lots, I would have 2 people in each lot w/ radios. I would consider arming the two in the main lot.

I would have one point of entrance to the church and three guards right there (All three seating areas are less than 30 seconds from the front door) and two guards in each seating area.

My friend was in the sound booth in the main area (Not the best person but certainly a good location).

Finally I would have dictated to the evangelist’s guards ( that I don’t know for sure existed) that in the event of an emergency their sole responsibility would be to remove him from the church.

I also would have drilled the response team and seriously considered hiring at least one off duty CSPD for a visible presence out side the church
 

NCIC105

New member
Cross fire victims are abound!
Who to shoot...That is the question!

I think if the church is going to do this (I applaud them) there should be some training as a team and given some placement instructions and assigned a zone....Also I think the church needs to know of all permit holders that carry so they can work together and know each other so you avoid mistaken identity and have them shoot each other.
 

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