In wake of Tenn. church shooting, local church leaders and police officers say to always stay alert, no matter the situation

Northeast Alabama
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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. -- It's a terrible reality when a place of worship is targeted, and unfortunately on Sunday that's what happened.

In a sad sign of the times, more and more businesses, organizations, and even churches are looking for training on what to do in an active shooter situation. Boaz Police officers offer courses that teach that training to churches and organizations in their community.

"Once you get somewhere you should already be prepared for a situation like that to happen, and should it occur, you already have a plan in place at least in your mind, being aware of the exits, where they are, so if you're able to run you know where you're able to run to," explained Boaz Police Deputy Chief Josh Gaskin.

Gaskin says that's what they teach churches, organizations, and others in the community: be prepared, have a plan, and be ready to implement it. Look for a sturdy place to hide and find the exits.

"If you can't run or hide, then obviously your only other option is to fight," Gaskin said, "That's something that we've talked to the people at the churches about, is that by the time we get there, there's a lot of rounds that could be fired off and so they need to be prepared to engage this person."

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"It's very sad that something like this would happen in such a holy place," said Reverend Tim Pfander, Pastor of Saint William Catholic Church in Guntersville, "No one in their right mind would walk into a house of God and blatantly break one of the Commandments."

The harsh reality is, a situation like what happened in Tennessee on Sunday can happen anywhere for reasons we may never know . "No matter where you're at, be aware of your surroundings and be prepared for the worst because the day and time that we live in, unfortunately that's the way we have to live," Gaskin said.

Reverend Pfander encourages his members to stay alert and to report any suspicious behavior.

Saint William Church parishioners pray every Sunday for peace. "Prayer is probably one of the big things that's going to heal but also one of the things that will help us move much closer to God," Reverend Pfander said.

Gaskin says to always keep a guard up and have a plan. Every situation is different, so it all goes back to being ready. He says that's an unfortunate reality.

We know all too well a deadly shooting in a place of worship has happened before. It's hard to fathom that it happened again.

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