By: Carl Chinn
(Excerpt from the book, Evil Invades Sanctuary)
Before 9/11/01 airline crews were instructed simply to cooperate with the demands of hijackers. The model of hijackers capitalizing on that quiet compliance to use the plane as a suicide bomb had never happened. It is not a bad mark against the crews and passengers of the first three planes that day that they didn’t take action. They complied as most would have, given the models to go by. It is really quite remarkable that the passengers and crew of flight 93 so quickly created the new model.
Now airline protocol (as well as passenger response) is different, and because of that difference Richard Reid now shares prison with the likes of Ted Kaczynski instead of sharing history with Mohamed Atta. Flight attendants and passengers took 6’ 4” Reid down hard with creative weapons of seatbelt extensions, headphones and brute force as he tried to bring down American Airlines flight 63 over the Atlantic shortly after 9/11 with a deadly bomb hidden in his shoe.
Just as law enforcement agencies, schools and airlines learn and adapt from incidents, churches should do the same. Threats are endless and unpredictable, as are their triggers (reasons for the attacks). The triggersoffered for heinous examples following are not spiritual theories. That angle can be written by someone else. These are simply the reasons discovered in the investigations.
On April 27th, 2003 Daniel Bondeson laced arsenic into the coffee in the Gustaf Adolph Lutheran Church in New Sweden, Maine. Walter Reid Morrill died, and 15 others were hospitalized as a result of the poisoning. It was discovered to have been retaliation over petty church politics, personal grudges, and being offended by nasty tasting coffee at a previous church event.
On April 25th, 2008 an argument over damaged mailboxes erupted in the parking lot of the Pinedale Baptist Church in Ashville, Alabama leaving one man shot and killed.
In Wheaton, Minnesota on September 3, 2009 Claude Hankins and David Collins got into a fight in the sanctuary of Thy Kingdom Come World Ministry over a washer and dryer. Collins swung a baseball bat at Hankins hitting Hankins’s 14 month old daughter instead, killing her.
At a party on March 11th, 2011 at the Bethlehem United Methodist Church Community Center in Edin, North Carolina, Eric Blackstock and Akeen Laquan Clark got into an argument over the best place to live in the area. Clark produced a handgun and shot Blackstock in the chest.
Think About it:
- How can you determine when someone walks through the door of your facility where their mind is at? How do you know who or what may have set them off? It may not have anything to do with your place as the source of the retaliation. Often an offense simply came from an obscure church member or stranger. Ministry leadership was often not aware of, nor did they have any control or influence over the situation until it exploded under their roof or in their parking lot.
- In many deadly force incidents at churches and ministries there was at least some level of observation of the brewing storm. For various reasons it wasn’t taken seriously until it was too late and became an investigation. In Louisville, KY this week a shooting erupted inside the Springdale Community Church. A neighborhood housing association was meeting in the church (as a bible study and athletic program were occurring in other areas of the church and grounds). 73-year-old David Merritt was killed and 69-year-old Marvin Fisher remains in critical condition after 55-year-old Dr. Mahmoud Hindi became enraged over a long-standing dispute over a driveway, fence, satellite dish and no-trespassing sign on his property and started shooting.
- Many crimes (violent and non-violent) occur when we least expect them. But since the beginning of times when people interacted with others, there have been conflicts. When those conflicts are observed, we should pay attention. Of 581 incidents studied at faith-based organizations, 15.05% were due to a conflict between two or more people that erupted into deadly force actions.