(WKRG) — Authorities say the shooting at a church in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, stemmed from a domestic incident. Investigators say Devin Kelley started shooting during Sunday services, killing 26 and hurting 20 others.
Here on the Gulf Coast, a group of men and women train for exactly what to do in an active shooter situation in a church setting. Three Brothers Arms in Baldwin County hosts these classes, taught by Scott Thompson of Gulf Firearms Instruction. Thompson is training churches to be ready if anything like this should happen.
A few members of the group met up at Three Brothers to shoot, and News 5’s Hayley Minogue joined them Monday afternoon to hear their reactions to the deadly shooting in Texas, and learn more about what sets the training apart from other types of gun safety courses.
“Love the body of Christ enough to protect him,” said Scott Thompson, Gulf Firearms Instruction. Thompson teaches church communities all around the gulf area.
“I began to see a reason to have it with everything that’s going on in today’s world,” said Michael Hovey, who is in charge of the church security team at Eastern Shore Baptist Church. Eastern Shore has four security teams, with seven people on each team.
“I asked Scott, ‘What can churches do to have protection?'” Hovey said in reference to Eastern Shore’s decision to start training security teams.
Thompson says his course prepares members for anything from natural disaster, to unruly congregants, to an active shooter.
“God allows deadly force to protect his people,” Thompson added.
Ten churches in Mobile and Baldwin counties are trained with multiple people ready to protect.
“Evil will do evil no matter what they have available,” Thompson said of the people who would target churches, and why he prepares the congregants for so many different scenarios.
Sunday’s church shooting in Texas hit close to home for both men, who are also concerned with the fall out from the tragedy.
“It starts tearing it apart,” Hovey said of the damage done to those who survived the shooting but may struggle with what comes next. “You get divorces coming out of it, your church… People leave the church. You don’t have the congregation you normally have. You have loss of life, and that really hits home.”
Thompson believes firearm training should be like knowing how to swim…everyone should have it. But, he says that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone should have a gun.
“If you don’t have the right mindset you’re better off without the firearm,” Thompson said. “If you don’t have training on how to use that gun effectively, you’re not going to be effective with it.”
For more information on taking a course with GFI, and all the different courses they have to offer, click here.