I've been watching the security camera footage of the Texas church shooting last Sunday, and reading as much as I can find about it. It contains some important lessons for all of us, not just in terms of church security, but our personal approach to security as well.
Here's an excerpt from an interview with the man who shot the criminal. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
Wilson recalled the events leading up to Sunday's shooting and said there was concern about the individual as soon as he entered the building due to the way he was dressed, in a long coat with a fake beard and wig.
He said church security trained an A/V camera on the man and that a member of the volunteer security team, Richard White, sat behind him in the auditorium.
Wilson said the man had stood up and left the auditorium once to use the restroom and that he'd talked to Anton "Tony" Wallace as he served communion before returning to his seat.
Wilson said the man then stood up and pulled out a shotgun and that's when both he and White drew their guns.
"Richard did get his gun out of the holster, he was, I think, able to get a shot off but it ended up going into the wall. The shooter had turned, shot him and then shot Tony, and then started to turn to go to the front of the auditorium," Wilson recalled.
Wilson said he didn't initially have a clear shot on the shooter and had to wait a half-second or second for parishioners to clear out of the way. He said he then fired one shot at the gunman's head and that the shooter ... immediately went down.
"The only clear shot I had was his head because I still had people in the pews that were not all the way down … that was my one shot. When I teach people, I teach them not to shoot the head unless that's all you have," Wilson said, explaining that it's easier to hit a person in their body because it's a larger target than the head. "If that's the only shot you've got, then that's the shot you take."
There's more at the link.
- If there was "concern about the individual" from the start, perhaps it would have been better to approach him as he entered, or prevent him from proceeding through the doors into the main body of the church. If you let the fox into the henhouse, you can expect trouble. Yes, this is a difficult problem; you may end up being seen as "exclusionary" to those who are "troubled", or "elitist", or "intruding upon people's civil liberties". I don't see it that way. If the church is private property, it has a right to enforce its standards upon those who enter; and those standards should include compliance with any security procedures it may put in place. That can be signposted at every entrance, making it legal. In today's world, it's not a bad idea.
- The first man to be shot was a member of the church's security team. Watching the video of the incident, he was clearly caught off-guard. He took almost three seconds to get his gun out - and that was too long. He was the first casualty. Lesson to be learned: if you're suspicious of something or someone, you need to be keyed-up and ready to react as fast as possible. That includes having your firearm in a position where you can get to it easily and quickly, and draw it fast enough to matter. Action beats reaction, almost every time; and it cost two lives to demonstrate that yet again. You may even wish to get your gun out of its holster ahead of time, and have it ready in your hand or another more convenient location in case of need. Certainly, if you're likely to be sitting down, you need a holster that lets you get the gun out fast while seated - a crossdraw (like this or similar) or shoulder holster (like this or similar) being probably the fastest from that position. We also need to wear garments that will not impede our draw stroke.
- Wilson did very well indeed to keep his cool and wait for a clear shot. His first round ended the problem, then and there. He has an extensive shooting and law enforcement background, which were major contributing factors to his success; but he kept his cool under pressure, and applied his training and experience to the problem. Most of us don't have that training or experience. Would we be able to make a one-shot stop, over a distance of 18 yards, in the midst of gunfire, screaming people, and rapid movement all around us? Most of us would not. Certainly, those without adequate training and practice will not. This illustrates the need to get both adequate training and regular practice, so as to be prepared when we need to be.
- It's all very well to train for "body shots", as representing the biggest target; but sometimes we can't see that target. What if you're lying on the ground, and you see the shooter's feet on the far side of a car twenty yards away? If you shoot under the car, you can take out one or both feet, and immobilize him. If he falls to one knee, you can shoot that; if he falls on his side, shoot his arm or his head. We have to train for any contingency that may arise. It's all very well to say "Oh, I can't do that - I don't have the time" or "I don't have the ammo budget" or "It's too much trouble to keep it up". What is your life, and the life of your loved ones, worth to you? That's how much effort you'll put into it. Your actions, or the lack thereof, will speak far more loudly than your words, if the crunch should ever come. As for hitting a pinpoint target, try the training methods I described in this article, and even a novice will make rapid progress.
I'm very sorry that it cost the lives of two innocent people before the shooter could be put down. That's a tragedy that will affect everyone who was there, and the families and friends of the dead most of all. It is, indeed, praiseworthy that the church had taken the time and trouble to set up a volunteer security team, and select at least one person who was skilled and experienced enough to solve the problem. I hope and pray other churches do likewise, in the wake of this example.
As for the shooter . . . let his name be forgotten, and his memory consigned to the trash dump of history.