WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. (WTAP) - As more shootings are taking place in or around churches, places of worship are preparing for active shooter situations.
A former local law enforcement officer, who is now pastor, is teaching churches in our region how to respond.
Brady Stephens teaches a two hour class on active shooter preparedness to his own church as well as others. Saturday, he spoke to more than 30 parishioners from the Evergreen Bible Church in Williamstown, and a few from other churches in the area.
The Pastor there, Steve Thibault says, “The reality that it could happen here is a wakeup call and just a reminder that we want to do everything we can to keep our people safe.”
Stephens says someone dies every 15 seconds in an active shooter situation. So he's teaching church goers how to stop a shooter, because he says too many people die waiting for law enforcement to arrive.
“Responders, if you're one of the people that is going to respond in case of an attack like this you need to be strategically seated”
“They want to be ready you know, and we pray for peace but we're prepared for the worse. So we never want to have to use this training but we're ready to use it.” says Thibault.
The first section of the class looked at case studies of church shootings in the past like it Gonzales Luisiana, Fort Worth Texas, Batton Rouge Lousiana, Sash Texas, Neosho Missouri and the First Baptist Church in Southerland Springs Texas.
It was to show how it can happen to any church, anywhere, at any time.
“In most cases there is some familiarity with the church they may have attended there at one time, they may have at least visited there.” Says Stephens.
In the second half he talked about the logistics of handling an active shooter.
“Take your thumb and put it here and bend it back, he will either let go of the gun, or if you keep bending, the finger will break, one of the two.” And the realities and dangers of being a person willing to fight back.
“Is it legal to shoot in this situation? Is it necessary to shoot in the situation? In this crowd and in this building is it safe to shoot? Is my shooting going to increase or decrease the hazard? These are all questions that you have to answer and you have to answer really quickly because this is all unfolding really quickly.”
He adds, “You fire your weapon and it hits somebody that you didn't mean to hit, man that's huge. When you fire your gun, you own that bullet for the rest of your life.”
Stephens has been teaching this class for three years and says it continues to become more and more popular.
He says in a few months he will present to the First Christian Church on Washington Avenue in Parkersburg.