SYKESVILLE, Md. (WJZ)– After a gunman opened fire in a Texas church, killing 26 people, religious leaders in Maryland are learning what to do in an active shooter situation.
Those who went to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on that tragic Sunday morning, had no idea they were walking into the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
Police say Devin Kelley opened fire while the congregation were praying in what should have been a sanctuary.
The Carroll County sheriff wants church leaders to know what to do if they’re ever face-to-face with a potential killer.
In response to the mass shooting, a Carroll County congregation learned what to do if such an event happens again.
“In order to help people worship and to do bible study to serve God, they can’t be worrying about somebody coming in and shooting the place up or beating people up,” said pastor Jim Edmonson of Elders Baptist Church. “It’s got to be a safe environment.”
Carroll County Sheriff James DeWees says the training helps pastors teach their parishioners when to run, hide or fight.
“These are soft targets like schools are,” DeWees said. “Now we have to harden them up a little bit so we have to make it more difficult just to walk into and churches struggle with that because they’re open doors. They’re houses of worship.”
The seminar includes knowing where exits are, how to secure houses of worship and identifying threats. Topics that are meant to make split-second decisions easier.
“Take action. Don’t be indecisive. Take action,” said Sgt. Micahel Zepp of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. “Get in the mindset that you have to act to save your life or life of someone else.”
DeWees says every congregation is different and training should be adapted to each situation .
Carroll County has provided similar training at its public schools over the past few years.