What will it take??????

Over the years of teaching how to prevent and survive active shooters in houses of worship, the one thing I have noticed is that many churches do not want to prepare. They take a haphazard or complacent response to protecting the church. I have heard a myriad of reasons, with almost all of them being what I consider “bad excuses”. This has led me to wonder “What it will take for them to understand the importance of protecting their flock?”

Historically, scholars and public safety has seen if it happens in the rest of the world, it eventually comes to the United States. We have seen terror attacks in various places, especially Middle Eastern countries, and we say, “That’s horrible” or “What a shame”, only for it to happen on U.S. soil a year or two later.

We only need to think about the car and knife attacks that started in Middle Eastern countries, then it moved to France and England, only to eventually come to fruition in the United States a year or so later. If we think about it, we saw the terror attacks in foreign countries in the 1990’s, and then we saw these attacks come to fruition on September 11, 2001. Looking at this from a historical perspective, it doesn’t even need to be the same type of perpetrator. We have seen the same types of attacks come from radical Muslims, eco-terrorists, domestic terrorists (think Timothy McVeigh), and people that have evil in their heart.

ISIL inspired attacks cut the throat of a French Priest, bombings in Egyptian Mosques and Nigerian Mosques soon led to the bombing of a Minnesota Mosque and the church shooting in Texas. The perpetrators of these crimes were not from the same religion, or even have the same beliefs. Their hearts are hard, and they want to cause death and destruction. It sounds like Satan’s plan to me. As a professional in emergency management and homeland security, I often say “As it happens in the rest of the world, so will it happen in our country.”

Whether it is a mental issue, or a heart filled with evil, our places of worship are under attack! In looking at Carl Chinn’s deadly force statistics (in houses of worship), it is easy to see that deadly force incidents are on the rise. In 1999, there were 22 deaths reported in churches from a deadly incident, and in 2000, there were nine, followed by four in 2001. The number of deadly force statistics stayed under 50 deaths in churches per year, until 2008. Since 2008, we have seen a steady incline in deaths in church at the hands of others. The year 2017 was the deadliest ever recorded, at 177 deaths occurring at houses of worship. Since 1999, there have been 477 deaths that have occurred in houses of worship, stemming from 1691 total potentially deadly force incidents.

So, I ask you, what is it going to take to get your church to prepare? We have scriptural mandates to protect our flocks. We have seen a huge increase in deaths in houses of worship. We have seen mass killings in churches. We have seen mass bombings in houses of worship, in other countries (Prediction: coming soon to the U.S. like never seen before). Is it going to take a shooting or bombing at a church in your state? Perhaps it will take a shooting or bombing in your county? Of course, there are some that will wait until it comes to their doorstep! I tend to believe that there are those that won’t even take action then!

Many stand on “God will take care of us”. God does take care of His children, but He also expects us to help Him. If we are to rely solely on God’s protection, then why does Nehemiah 4:15-16 say: “When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah.”

Similarly, in Acts 20:28-30, we are told “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

Even Jesus provided guidance that we may need to protect ourselves. In Luke 22:36 Jesus spoke to his disciples “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”

These are but a few verses that support protecting Gods people and the church. Think of all the words of David about how God prepared him to prevail against those that would attack Israel. Think of all the times God the Father helped his people prepare for war. Make no mistake, this is a war. This is Satan’s assault on the church, and he has changed it from a spiritual war to a combination of a spiritual and physical war. Food for thought, … how many people do you think have quit attending church because of the recent violence against churches? This is part of Satan’s plan!

People, I am shouting from the mountain top, as are many of my colleagues who teach church safety! I beg you, start preparing! I also beg you to look at the statistics that Carl provides. They can be very eye opening! Pastors, individuals in public safety, and the general public are begging for church protection. PLEASE, quit being complacent and do something! … Mark

Missed signs may have caused deaths

For a little over a week now, I have been telling you about signs that should send up red flags. Unfortunately, these signs were missed in the two most recent shootings, and missed horribly. Had something been done, such as a court ordered psych evaluation, there is a good possibility that many people would still be here on earth rather than souls in heaven.

I thought today would be a good day to give you some things to ponder. First, both the Texas shooter and the California shooter should not have been able to purchase firearms. To be honest, they probably would have found another way of causing death and destruction, but still, this needs to be pointed out. The warning signs that were there for these two shooter still should have been HUGE red flags to everyone around them and to law enforcement!

Let’s start with the Texas shooter. According to a story by Meghan Keneally and Luis Martinez of ABC News (2017), the shooter had multiple signs that he was a prime candidate to become an active shooter. The first outward sign happened when he chocked, kicked, and slapped his wife in 2011. Just three days later, he hit his 1-1/2 year old stepson in the head, fracturing his skull. In 2012 he escaped from a mental health facility and was trying to take a bus out of town. The report of his escape said that he was a danger to himself and others. He had already been caught sneaking firearms onto his Air Force Base, and he made death threats to his military chain of command. He was confined for 9-1/2 months of a 12 month sentence, released early for good behavior. In 2013, he was accused of sexual assault. In 2014, he was cited for cruelty to animals for closed fist punching a dog repeatedly.  Just 5 days before his rampage, he and his children attended the fall festival at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. While this last information is not a warning sign, I can’t help but wonder if he was scoping out the church for what he would do five days later.

In the California shooting, similar signs were missed or ignored according to a story by the Associated Press (AP [2017]). He was out on $160,000 bail after an alleged assault, stabbing his neighbor with a knife. He was supposed to surrender all of his firearms in January.  Multiple neighbors complained that he was firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition over the last few weeks. In an interview

that reporter Jim Shultz , a court reporter for Shasta County reveals many signs I have warned about. Neighbors said they could hear the (eventual) shooter come unhinged on a regular basis. According to the AP story, both the mother and the sister of this man said he had “mental issues. The story went on to say that the shooter was marijuana grower, and he had a long-standing dispute with a neighbor he believed was making meth. According to the AP story, just prior to the incident, he called her and told her that the people in the town were trying to execute him (paranoia) . She admitted that she knew he was mentally unstable, and so did his sister.

When we look at these warning signs, we see that both of these shooters portrayed them. Do you have someone in your community portraying these signs? If so, you should not ignore them! I have taken the proactive stance of adding the full list of warning signs at the bottom of this post. Feel free to share them and print them for yourself. Hang them by your desk, or somewhere that will be seen by you on a regular basis. As always, I encourage to be proactive rather than reactive, … Mark

References

Associated Press (November 15, 2017). Warning Signs: California shooter Kevin Neal was out on bail, worried neighbors, fired hundreds of practice rounds. Retrieved from: http://torontosun.com/news/world/warning-signs-california-shooter-kevin-neal-was-out-on-bail-worried-neighbours-fired-hundreds-of-practice-rounds

Connor, T., & Arkin, D. (November 6, 2017). Texas Gunman Devin Kelley escaped from mental health facility in 2012. Retrieved from: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/texas-church-shooting/texas-gunman-devin-kelley-escaped-mental-health-facility-2012-n818496

Schultz, J. (November 15, 2017). Rancho Tehama man talks about incident

. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/JimSchultz_RS/status/930500370073206784

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FEEL FREE TO PRINT, SHARE, AND/OR POST THIS QUICK GUIDE

Active Shooter Common Characteristics

According to the FBI, active shooters are typically male (94%), with the youngest recorded age being 13 years old and the oldest being 88 years old. The vast majority (87%) are under the age of 40. Common themes of past active shooters include:

  • May lack social skills
  • May have been a victim of teasing/bullying
  • May have conflicts with coworkers
  • May suffer from depression
  • May reveal aggressive or explosive behavior
  • May violate safety guidelines
  • May not accept responsibility
  • May be paranoid
  • May have an interest in guns/weapons
  • May not take criticism well
  • May blame others
  • Might threaten people
  • May suffer emotional outbursts

Signs that Should Indicate an Increased Awareness

Past active shooters had common attributes. For these attributes to be included in this list, it had to be present in at least 25% of the active shooters life history. While these signs may not indicate they will become an active shooter, they should cause individuals that may become victims to have a raised awareness. If two or more are present, you may want to notify the police.

  • Hostility or conflicts at work or home
  • Financial difficulties
  • Legal problems
  • Domestic problems
  • Currently using drugs or alcohol
  • Poor ob performance evaluation
  • History of violence against others
  • History of being abused or neglected
  • Disciplinary action or job termination
  • Involuntary job changes–different roles, responsibilities or work groups
  • May exhibit recent signs of mental illness with outbursts

Red Flags that MIGHT Require Intervention

Just prior to active shooting incidents, most perpetrators displayed common signs which may indicate the potential to act on an impulse to become an active shooter. Not everyone that displays one or more of these signs will definitely become and active shooter, but it should be a sign that intervention should at the very least be considered. For items in bold lettering, action should be taken immediately:

  •  Extremely high level of distress
  • Threats of homicide or suicide
  • Fantasies of homicide or suicide
  • Weapons: Use, threat of use, or recent impulse purchase 
  • Obsessiveness
  • Substance/Alcohol abuse
  •  Pet /Animal abuse

Should I call law enforcement or not?

Earlier this week, another gunman shot 10 people in northern California. In listening to an interview of a young man, many of the signs I have been writing about were present in this shooter. The young man interviewed said that the man who shot up this town (including children) often made threats, and he had a fascination with guns. He was firing hundreds of rounds over the last week or so. I am willing to guess that as more information comes out, it will somewhat look like the lists I have been providing you with.

On Wednesday (11/9/2017) and Monday (11/13/2017), I discussed various signs that could indicate that someone may become an active shooter. What I failed to mention, if you see two or more of the signs mentioned, it may be time to call the police and at least report your concerns. Most law enforcement agencies will take this warning, and view the person as someone that they will need to evaluate, or question. If they find cause for concern, like you did, they may ask a judge to put the individual on a psychiatric hold. Under the law, the only way this can be done is under a court order, and only if the judge believes they may be a danger to themselves or others. I will be releasing the list next week in its entirety, so you can print it, and hang it in your office.

While the other signs can be the build-up, the signs I am going to reveal today should be considered serious signs that should warrant contacting law enforcement right away. They inclide;

  • Threats of weapons use
  • Fascination or experimenting with explosives
  • Fascination or experimenting with guns
  • Threats of homicide or suicide
  • Fantasies of homicide or suicide
  • Animal abuse (especially their own pets)

If you, or anyone that knows the person, see’s these signs, law enforcement should immediately be contacted. There is no time to wait, these individuals are ticking time bombs that is ready to explode! If these individuals threaten to use weapons on you or someone else, they may have the inability to completely control their temper, and some day they may act rather than talk.

Looking at explosives, if they are experimenting with explosives, it shows a willingness to not only learn about them, but they also are in the habit of taking risks. I think it goes without saying that if you, or a neighbor of theirs hears regular explosions, it may be time for law enforcement intervention. This holds especially true if these explosions get bigger and bigger.

When we talk about the fascination of guns, we do not mean the gun collector, or the person that wants a certain caliber of gun; we are talking about the person that drools over guns. They may make regular visits to gun stores to sit and drool over them. They may ask to see them, and they may even ask odd questions like “How big of a hole will this gun make?” They may begin dangerous play with loaded guns. They may try twirling a gun like a wild west gunman. They may fire hundreds of rounds in a brief period of time, and they may even try shooting while advancing on a target. This may be the build-up for what they want to do. This is something that local law enforcement should be warned about, so at a minimum they can have this person on their radar.

While I think it goes without saying, if someone says that they are suicidal or homicidal, or if they fantasize or talk about being homicidal or suicidal, you should call the authorities immediately! While I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, we can also pray for them while they are being mentally evaluated. While I am a firm believer in Christian counselling, I do not believe this is the time to take chances. You should never risk the person’s life, or others’ lives; I strongly urge you to call the authorities, and let them handle it through the system. If law enforcement find that the person is unstable, and that they have firearms or explosives, they may be able to stop a mass shooting or bombing.

It should also go without saying, if the person is abusing or torturing animals. Whenever they get to this extreme, it shows that they lack empathy. With a lack of empathy, in most instances, they could torture or kill a human as easily as they do the same to an animal. To be honest, just the thought of torturing or abusing an animal makes me cringe, and it should make you cringe too.

I reiterate my earlier statement, if you see any of these signs, it is not time to think about it; it is time to involve law enforcement. As always, stay safe and keep God’s children safe, … Mark