After Texas shooting local pastor stresses importance of preparedness at church

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IDAHO FALLS– After the tragic shooting of 26 Texans who were attending church, an Idaho Falls pastor reminds church leaders of the importance of active shooter training.

Devin Kelley shot and killed members of the First Baptist Church between the ages of five and 72 in Sutherland Springs Texas which was the largest mass shooting in the state.

River of Life Pastor Tim Rupp is acquainted with Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Frank Pomeroy. He tells EastIdahoNews.com he was sad to hear of the passing of Pomeroy’s 14-year-old daughter Annabelle Pomeroy, a victim in the Texas shooting.

“Pastor Frank Pomeroy and I go back to the late 1990’s. We used to attend the same church together in La Vernia (Texas), the First Baptist Church of La Vernia,” Rupp said.

Rupp, author of “Pistol in the Pulpit,” is dedicated to teaching safety at church in the event of an active shooter incident. Rupp teaches seminars and does in-house active shooter training for churches.

He trains on having arms safety response teams within a congregation. These response teams consist of several trained church members attending meetings with firearms. These individuals are strategically placed throughout the church on alert.

“A little bit of training goes a long way,” Rupp says. “We’re there to stop a shooting from happening until the police can get there, or to engage a suspect who is actively shooting.”

Pistol in the Pulpit | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

Rupp, who was a member of the San Antonio police department for 24 years, has investigated homicide shootings. With his tactical experience along with his work as a pastor, he decided to write a book addressing the use of lethal force in a spiritual setting. His book outlines the biblical mandate to protect families, and also the practical side of being prepared in a shooting.

“I believe the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, support and in fact, give the responsibility for shepherds to protect their flock.”

Rupp said there is a real threat against churches and it has been demonstrated through tragic events.

“Active shooters are real. We saw that yesterday with the tragedy in Texas. We need to be prepared because if we’re not prepared when something like that happens, what people do is they freeze and they don’t do anything,” Rupp said.

Rupp said churches need to have some type of response in place for active shooters, even if it is not an armed response.

“What we’d teach in our church before we had the team is for the women and children to go down and for the men to grab a hymnal, a bible, something, and throw it at the assailant,” Rupp said

Rupp said he and his family are praying for Pastor Pomeroy at this time. He prays the remaining member’s faith is still intact.

“We need to pray and encourage them. We know that in the end, the gospel will come through,” Rupp said.

Rupp will be teaching his next seminar Feb. 3 at Watersprings Church in Idaho Falls. More information can be found at his website, TheStrongBlueLine.org, or on its Facebook page.

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