LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Churches have been a target for active shooters before, and another mass shooting on Sunday was just a reminder of how vulnerable places of worship can be if they aren’t prepared.
Police said 68-year-old Las Vegas resident David Chou opened fire at Taiwanese churchgoers over the weekend, but one attendee, Dr. John Cheng, who died while trying to tackle Chou, is being called a hero.
Dr. Cheng and other attendees managed to stop and restrain the shooter before others could be hurt.
Jeff Hallock is the undersheriff in Orange County, California, and described the bravery many attendees demonstrated over the weekend.
“That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery,” said Hallock.
That heroism and bravery are what Pastor John Bain of First Christian Church wants to enforce among his parishioners.
“If we end up in a situation, I see almost everything, it will be handled back there, but grab something and start moving toward the exits,” said Pastor Bain.
Pastor Bain said his church always has armed guards by the exits and each member has an exit plan. Now that in-person service is back in full swing, however, he will be revising his safety plan with the congregation.
“We know we are soft targets and anybody who has anger or hate in their hearts will come to a soft target before they will a hard target,” said Pastor Bain.
In his safety plan, Pastor Bain advises his parishioners to use whatever they can to throw at the gunman, whether it means throwing a bible at them or using a pencil to stop them.
“Everybody needs to be attentive to their surroundings, anybody that comes in, it’s a hard thing to ask because we welcome everybody,” he said.
During larger services like Christmas Eve or Easter, those armed guards also walk around the church property to watch for anything suspicious.
For the safety of his church, 8 News Now chose to not disclose too many details about their exit strategy, but Pastor Bain said he hopes the tragedy in California will be a reminder to always stay alert.