After a fatal shooting at a church near Birmingham, several churches and even businesses contacted local law enforcement, such as Huntsville Police, Athens Police and the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, for a safety training. This ensures that people here are prepared should an active shooter situation arise.
Police say 70-year-old Robert Smith shot and killed three people at a church in Vestavia Hills on Thursday. The situation could have been much worse had it not been for a member of the church, who restrained the shooter before the police arrived.
“It was extremely critical to saving lives. The person who subdued the suspect, in my opinion, is a hero,” said Capt. Shane Ware of the Vestavia Hills Police Department.
Authorities are now trying to figure out the motive for the shooting.
“You never know that’s the thing. You never know,” said Zak Trotter of Athens.
He tries to help whenever he can at his church in Tanner. That’s why security was the first thing that came to mind when he heard about the fatal shooting at a church on Thursday.
“Anytime there’s someone in your church with a gun, you want to make sure your building is secure. That’s the bottom line,” Trotter said.
With a church in basically every corner of the South, law enforcement is doing what they can to make sure they all feel safe.
“It’s hard for churches. They want to be open, welcoming, caring and loving. Many of them are doing a great job, but you also have to be aware of what your behaviors are seeing what that small voice is in your head. If somebody that’s acting differently weird, weird, you know, you gotta be more careful,” said Mike Swafford of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.
However, there isn’t just one way to do it.
“They’re all different shapes. They’re all different sizes, so there’s no cookie cutter to help them all out,” Swafford explained.
That’s why agencies offer church security training for officers to meet with church leaders and security teams to develop a plan.
“Unfortunately, the best church security won’t stop everything, but what you need to do is put yourself in the best position to catch as many as you can,” Swafford said.
If a church or business is interested in church safety training, all you need to do is contact your local law enforcement agency. It is not limited to a specific time. Several agencies say they are willing to set up a training session with anyone whenever they get the call.