Religious leaders learn how to protect members in wake of church shootings

Thursday, November 9, 2017
Religious leaders learn how to protect their congregation
Religious leaders learn how to protect members in wake of church shootings.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After the 2015 Charleston mass shootings and the Sutherland Springs massacre, many religious organizations are asking what their members would do if a gunman stormed inside.

Many congregations are asking leaders if they have a plan in place should someone hoping to do them harm make their way inside. Pastors like James Heath of the Apostolic Oneway Church in northeast Houston are also searching for solutions after the Sutherland Springs church shooting.

"They never expected it. Didn't know it was coming so they had no time to prepare," Heath said.

Harris County Pct. 1 Constable Alan Rosen hosted dozens of faith leaders Wednesday night to teach them how to create a plan for what was once an unimaginable situation.

"You never want to feel vulnerable in a place where you're going to worship," Rosen said.

Annabelle Renee Pomeroy, 14, was among those killed in a mass shooting at a Texas church.

People of the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths learned about securing their locations and spotting possible threats.

The response to the training was overwhelming. Every spot filled up quickly with people from all over the area.

Rosen suggested things like not allowing backpacks in places of worship, having a trained security ministry group with an evacuation plan and only using one entrance, while having multiple exits.

They're grappling with a difficult balance -- outreach versus suspicion with questions each organization has to tackle.

But, for many, being unprepared is no longer an option.

"I'm just of the belief we have to do something," Rosen said.

Rosen and his staff are coordinating with the organizations to plan customized strategies for their locations.

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