CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Beefing up church security is not something you hear every day. But, area law enforcement is offering free, specialized training for churches that are interested.
The Aransas Pass Police Department reached out to Coastal Bend churches on Facebook this week. They say having a church security team in place can save lives -- if in fact -- we find ourselves in another active shooter situation.
On Monday, Dec. 30, a man opened fire inside West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth.
"Today, evil walked boldly among us," Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said at a news conference. "Let me remind you, good people raised up and stopped it before it got worse."
Within six seconds, three people were killed including the shooter -- who was shot by an armed member of the church's volunteer security team.
"The armed confrontation was responded to with an armed response and it immediately stopped the violence," Aransas Pass Chief Eric Blanchard said. "It stopped the killing."
The Aransas Pass Police Department offers free training for churches looking to beef up their security.
"We believe in having good citizens who are armed and capable of handling a firearm and know what to do in an emergency situation," Blanchard said.
Texas legislation recently cleared the way for licensed gun owners and security teams at places of worship. This is in light of the 2017 massacre at a church in Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed.
"Today in society, there is so much evil," Aransas Pass Police Administrative Capt. Lynn Pearce said. "We all need to be prepared. We need to take responsibility for our safety."
For several years, Aransas Pass Police instructors have held License to Carry (LTC) training courses for anyone wanting to obtain their concealed handgun license.
They also have an active shooter training program referred to as "CRASE" -- Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events.
"They can arm their staff and learn what to do in a violent, active attacker situation," Blanchard said.
Pearce -- one of three instructors -- said as of right now they hold classes once a month.
"We teach the laws that deal with license to carry, use of force, nonviolent dispute resolution," he said.
Chief Blanchard said a handful of churches have expressed interest in the class before his Facebook post. He said he has heard from a couple others since.
Churches that are interested in training can message the Aransas Pass Police Department on Facebook or call (361) 758-5224.