UNION, MO - The most recent tragedy in a Texas church that left at least 26 people dead is a reminder that an active shooting situation can take place anywhere.
“You might as well put a map on the wall, blindfold yourself and through a dart at it and that could be the next location of an active shooter,” said Franklin County Sheriff Steve Pelton.
His department recently partnered with a faith-based agency to offer security advice to all houses of worship in Franklin County.
“We even had some from outside the county that participated,” Pelton said.
The sheriff doesn’t want people to live their lives in paranoia but said having a plan on how to handle an emergency situation can save lives. He said it is often the actions of those caught in the middle of a tragedy that determine the outcome.
“Seconds matter,” he said. “On average, statistically a person loses their life about every 14 seconds if the person is actively killing.”
Pelton said information shared with religious groups last year included situational awareness. He said examples are spotting someone who is agitated or noticing someone wearing big bulky clothing or a jacket when it’s warm outside.
The department also suggested to faith-based groups to have someone wearing a security vest monitoring the parking lot while services take place.
“That can intercept a possible threat coming into the church,” Pelton said.
The Franklin County Sheriff Department is also a believer in what’s known as Run, Hide, Fight. The idea is to run away from a threat if possible, hide if necessary and fight to save your life if trapped.
Pelton emphasizes that an active shooting situation can take place anywhere and said being prepared is one way to potentially save lives.