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Local church leaders feel prepared for potential gunmen

In light of the shooting at a church in Charleston, local church leaders are reminded a shooting could happen in their churches. However, some feel prepared if that were to happen.

Father John Worster has been a pastor for nearly 30 years, so the thought of a gunman coming into his church isn’t new to him.

As the leader of three chapels, he believes all religious leaders need to talk about handling these situations, especially with city officials and local law enforcement so emergency response will go smoothly.

“We all have the necessary resources to strengthen our community to really have solutions when there are, or even when there are not, threats to public safety and security,” said Worster.

At First Baptist Church, security has already been incorporated into services. In the back of the church an armed, retired police officer sits in a stool that lets him see all entrances.

Senior Pastor Mike Popovich said he has a security team made up of retired and active policemen who routinely discuss possible situations.

“We train for scenarios: how to lock down a facility if the threat’s coming, if the threat’s already in the facility and how we address that threat,” Popovich said. “We do have guys who are armed.”

When an incident the Charleston shooting occurs, the team re-examine their protocol.

“We all review, again, our alertness,” Popovich said. “At any time the threat can walk in the door and we could be that church. So we’re prepared for that.”

Worster said Holy Spirit Catholic Community also has a plan to handle potential threats in their churches.

Popovich recommends all houses of worship check out for security tips.

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