A Galveston church will hold a public event Monday during which local law enforcement officers will talk about how to best respond to an armed attack.
The event at the Jerusalem Baptist Church, 2717 A.S. Johnson Blvd., is being held after the Nov. 5 massacre in Sutherland Springs, said Marc James, the church’s pastor.
“We’re going to have a conversation about how we can be better prepared,” James said. “I’m not saying it’s going to happen; but in the event that it does happen we don’t want to be reactive. We want to have a plan in place.”
Devin Patrick Kelley shot and killed 25 people, one of whom was pregnant, during Sunday morning services at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. He wounded another 11 people.
Bystanders shot Kelley twice, but he apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The incident was the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
The shooting, like others in the past, prompted calls for new gun control laws and tightening of the national background check system, which failed to identify Kelley as a convicted domestic abuser, a status that should have prevented him from buying guns.
Churches, meanwhile, have been forced to evaluate their security measures.
On Wednesday, Galveston’s Coastal Community Church wrote on its Facebook page that it has decided to hire a Galveston Police Department officer to provide security during its Sunday services.
Galveston Police Chief Richard Boyle said the department had provided active shooter training and consulting to various churches around the island, including Moody Methodist Church, even before the Sutherland Springs shootings.
“It’s not new,” Boyle said. “We always prepare for these kind of things, so that if it happens it is not a surprise.”
Monday’s meeting will include discussion about situational awareness, how a building might be set up to prepare for armed attacks and how to prepare to run or hide or fight.
James said he also planned to talk to his congregation about the Sutherland Springs shooting during his sermon today.
“The church is still the refuge where you can be safe,” James said. “No one lone gunman can frighten the people from coming to the house of God.”