64ºF

Local churches reassess security in wake of Sutherland Springs shooting

HOUSTON – The mass murder in Sutherland Springs is causing church leaders across the country and Texas to reassess security measures at churches. 

Rev. James Nash presides over the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in south Houston. For him, security has always been a concern. It's an even greater one now. 

"It struck fear in your heart when you see what happen yesterday, and possibility of what can happen," Nash said.

Security became an issue even before the mass murders in Sutherland Springs Sunday, even before the Charleston church killings in 2015.

That's because churches are the softest of soft targets. In recent years many have adopted security plans and training for active shooter scenarios. 

"You need to know where those exits are, you need to know the place if someone comes in shooting, you know what you can do. You have to have a plan, not just at church, that's at a movie theater, that's at work or anywhere else but church is very vulnerable cause that's when peoples guards are down," Ray Hunt, with the Houston Police Officers Union, said.

Some larger churches instituted extensive measures. Second Baptist Church in Houston for instance has its own licensed security force. 

Father Paul Felix, pastor of Houston's Annunciation Catholic Church, said church leaders now have to balance openness with their members safety. 

"Unfortunately we've been brought to a place where we cannot pretend everything is rosy all the time anymore," Felix said. "We have to be realistic about the reality of evil in the world."

Nash already had security measures in place. But with only 300 church members, there wasn't money for paid security officers. But after Sutherland Springs, that may no longer be an option. 

"We are going to have a meeting and talk about possibilities of what can happen and talk about putting some funds together where we can hire a security guard," Nash said.

Download the Click2Houston news app in your app store to stay up-to-date with the latest news while you're on the go.

Sign up for KPRC 2 newsletters to get breaking news, sports, entertainment, contests and more delivered straight to your email inbox.