Eastern Carolina church leaders speak on safety in wake of mass shootings

Eastern Carolina church leaders speak on safety in wake of mass shootings
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 9:35 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Following two mass shootings over the weekend, some church leaders in Eastern Carolina are ramping up security to protect their congregations.

Greenville Community Christian Church has security cameras and deacons at every door during church services.

Urban Turnage, the church’s facility manager, says these are some of the many strategies they can use to keep their congregation safe.

Turnage believes that safety is more important than ever after the two mass shootings that occurred over the weekend.

On Saturday, authorities say an 18-year-old drove to Buffalo, NY, and shot and killed ten people in a crime that authorities say was racially motivated. On Sunday, a man opened fire at a Southern California church, killing one person and wounding multiple others.

“A lot of things have changed over the past 15 to 20 years concerning church shootings and church security,” Turnage said.

Some changes include security cameras and having a sheriff’s deputy on the property during church services.

Just down the road, Bp. James Tripp says his congregation at Holly Hill Free Will Baptist Church is making changes to its security as well.

“We have a meeting coming up next Thursday and we’ll be discussing our security plans,” Tripp said.

Tripp says he’ll inform his congregation what changes will take place after the closed-door meeting.

Following the tragic events over the weekend, Janeé Harris, an East Carolina University associate professor, isn’t surprised people are taking more precautions.

“Church communities and grocery stores are places that we assume to be safe spaces,” Harris said. “And to be reminded that they are not could cause some anxiety and some grief.”

Harris suggests people dealing with grief or anxiety seek formal services such as a counselor to deal with anxiety about current events and limit social media exposure to violent acts.

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