KNOXVILLE (WATE) — A man dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle opened fire inside a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing 26 people.
In Knoxville, churches meeting Sunday night still trying to understand what happened earlier Sunday afternoon.
“Churches there’s this contradiction because we want to be welcoming, we want people to engage and to be here but at the same time we have to very purposely take steps to make people as safe as possible.” said Dan Riley, Senior Pastor at Cavalry Baptist Church in Knoxville.
Pastors, like Riley, across East Tennessee already meet to discuss church safety and the safety of their parishioners.
“We have state licensed guards that volunteer with us here every week. They all have a trained response that they go to. We also have off duty Knox County Deputies. It’s about when they get off Kingston Pike, into the parking lot, the seats, and back again.” said Kevin Greene, Security Manager at First Baptist Concord.
Greene says he and a team of law enforcement officers, both volunteer and paid, work to prevent acts of violence before they happen. He says most commonly, the issues his team faces are relationship and domestic disputes. However, his team is prepared for events like an active shooter.
Greene says cameras, monitored by officers, and license plate recognition technology are just two ways anyone coming and going on the Concord property is kept safe.