Local churches, synagogues practice safety: "We've had more mass shootings than we've had days of the year"

Sunday, August 4, 2019
News 12 at 11

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Local synagogues and churches leaders from across the CSRA got together to talk about how they can better prepare their security for the worst case.

"Today is the 215th day of the year," Capt. Charles Mitchell with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office said. "This year we've had 250 mass shootings. We've had more mass shooting than we've had days of the year."

It's a harsh reality that no one wants to hear. One that the past 24 hours reminded us is very real.

"The greatest sin of our age is not indifference to the suffering of others, but indifference to threats that lead to the preventable suffering of others," Rabbi David Sirull at the Adas Yeshuron Synagogue said.

"El Paso, Texas, 20 dead, 24 injured. In Ohio this morning at 1 a.m., a shooter 19-years-of-age killed nine and injured 27 in the district which is similar to Broad Street and the Riverwalk area."

This year, Richmond County investigators say the Crime Suppression special operations team alone seized about 80 guns off the street.

It's part of the reason why Rabbi David Sirull and area churches and synagogues teamed up to practice and prepare if tragedy ever hits home.

"There just needs to be a higher sense of awareness," Rabbi Sirull said. Everyone needs to be aware, synagogues, churches, we've seen everything get hit from stores to houses of worship to restaurants."

From 1980 to 2005, there were 139 shootings in churches across the U.S. From 2005 to 2019, that number tripled.

"Times have changed, Capt. Mitchell said. "It's becoming a more and more commonplace that we have mass shootings. We just want to be prepared."

Several local churches have hired off duty law enforcement officers for Sunday service and bible study.

"There is a bright future for us, but this evening, we are mindful that security is a priority."