An Attack Sitting Ready in the Parking lot …
By. Carl Chinn
I don’t know Vince Harrison, and have never been to the Calvary Albuquerque Church where he serves as Security Chief in Albuquerque, NM. Next time I am in Albuquerque I am going to look him up.
On Saturday morning, January 19th, Mr. Harrison was teaching dozens of Sunday School teachers on principles of incident readiness – including active shooter readiness. While we don’t know exactly what time 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego began wandering aimlessly around the church campus, it is quite possible that as Harrison was teaching that group, Griego had arrived.
Harrison was called back to the church after completing the readiness classes, as young Griego had been saying some disturbing things to a pastor. When Harrison began to interview the teen, his flags went up and he called the sheriff’s office. Harrison then drove Griego to their rural home to meet arriving law enforcement. There they found many Griego family members – Mom, Dad, a 9-year-old brother, and sisters 2 & 5 years old -- laying throughout the house shot to death.
The 15-year-old confessed to shooting all of them in their beds around 1:00 AM that day, except his dad. His dad had been working all night at a homeless shelter, so the teen had waited in ambush in the family bathroom for his dad to come home. When dad got there, he too was gunned down and killed.
Then Nehemiah had taken the assault rifle he used and another gun, loaded them in a van and headed to town where he planned to shoot some random people. His primary target was Wal-Mart, but he went instead to the church, where the van with the weapons sat ready in the parking lot. Church video confirmed he had wandered the campus for hours, speaking to many he knew from church.
Nehemiah confessed that he intended to “shoot people at random and eventually be killed while exchanging gunfire with law enforcement”. Thankfully he never carried out the rest of his attack plans.
Think About it:
- You never know when someone enters your campus, or walks into your front door where their mind is at, or what kind of things they have encountered before being there at your place.
- While “intruder awareness” is a good readiness subject, attackers are often not an “intruder” at all – they are familiar faces. Nearly 1 in 4 (24.5%) of attackers in the DFI study were affiliated (member, past member, employee, or volunteer) with the ministry.
- The Greigo family were “front row seat regulars” at the church. The elder Griego and Nehemiah had been on missions trips together. Nehemiah played drums in the church youth band. Harrison had known the family for 10 years. Griego’s dad had served as a pastor at the church.
- The pastor that young Griego was talking to followed something (Instincts? Policies? Training?) to call the church security director. Does your church have that kind of culture with the counselors, pastors, teachers and staff? Please fix it if it isn’t in your culture – print this TAI off and give a copy to your church administrator and / or senior pastor – anyone who can start the staff talking to security when needed. Blame me – I made you do it.
- When you feel an urge to prepare your people – follow that urge. While the incident you see in your mind isn’t how “it” will go down, readiness will help when “it” takes shape in front of you.
- Harrison said it sent chills up his spine to later learn what kind of potential was present and waiting in the church parking lot. It sent chills up our spines as well brother.
- Pray for this church as if they were your own. It could have been any of us, and this is a hard thing for them. More than 2,000 attended the funerals for this widely known and respected family. Pray for Harrison as well as he continues to lead his people in readiness.