Church Shooting Drill

A gunman walks into a church and opens fire. It's a scenario that has unfolded with deadly consequences twice in the past year.

Now deputies in Leon County want to make sure they're ready if it should ever happen around here.

The SWAT Team descends on Chapel Hill Baptist Church.

Inside, a man and his wife who've come to confront the pastor at gunpoint and have taken him and a couple of church employees hostage.

The man playing the role of gunman is really a church youth pastor and says the scenario is frighteningly real.

"There's a lot of value in a role play like this from my vantage point. What would really happen if someone came in to one of my services and did this? So, it really has helped me to think through that process," said Todd Jackson, Youth Pastor at Christian Heritage Church.

"Faith is a huge part of our community here in Tallahassee and there's a lot of churches, a lot of people that attend church. I think it's important to be prepared for anything," said fellow Youth Pastor Marshall Ochs.

The SWAT team stands poised outside the sanctuary door while hostage negotiators try to talk the man into surrender.

The exercise is testing the Leon County Sheriff's Office tactics, equipment and more and it comes just one week after a man gunned down a pastor during morning services in Maryville, Illinois.

"The possibility is real. I mean, all you have to do is listen to the news or read the paper and you see an increasing amount of violent acts that are occurring in our community," said LCSO Captain Gene Revell.

When all was said and done, two of the hostages were freed and a sniper shot the gunman as he tried to force the pastor into his car.

A missionary participating in the drill knows in real life, the endings aren't always as sweet.

"It is not becoming uncommon any more for somebody to just go take a life, whether it's Sunday morning or it's Wednesday night, because that nature of life isn't valued as it should be," April Lupo said.

Captain Revell says the SWAT Team did find a glitch in its computer mapping program during the drill and says that will be fixed promptly.



 

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