During mass in Washington State a male entered the pulpit. The man and the Priest had interacted previously. The Priest initially wanted the the male to act as a handyman of the facility but during their meetings he began to threaten the congregation and Priest. His actions led to a restraining order being issued against him. A day after being served with the restraining order, the male entered the building and disrupted the worship service.

The Priest notices the man and begins ordering him to leave the church. The male responded by walking into the pulpit. As the man entered the pulpit, the priest walks away and sits. He requested someone should alert security. The male's responded, "I am not a trespasser.".

Based on this video, there is no indication the security team was alerted to the restraining order or the threats. Therefore the male was able to enter the church and ultimately entered the pulpit. Even without the notification, an unknown male was able to enter the church and take a seat on the front row. His action was unusual by many standards. It is uncommon for anyone to enter a meeting late and take a seat on the front row directly in front of the speaker.

The Priest or the responding congregation members did not attempt to deescalate the situation and a brawl ensued. Several members of the congregation were thrown to the floor. If the male or a member of the congregation had been armed, this situation would have ended very differently, possibly tragically.

How would you and your staff have managed this situation? It is not easy to say. As I was establishing a Threat Assessment Unit on the University of South Alabama's campus, the Chair of Comparative Medicine contacted me with a concerning situation. The male had been threatening co-workers because he believed they were going to hire a female biker gang to kill him. The Chair's recount ended with, "I am a researcher and not really sure how to manage these type of situations".

You may have the same feeling. Maybe you feel confident in your protocol and procedures but would like to be sure. My staff and I are here to help any way you need.

Please contact me anytime to ensure you are ready for the unforeseen when it appears.

#ChurchViolence #ChurchSafety #PHCongregationProtection