April 3, 2023
Written by Craig Cable, Director of Ministry Safety, ACG Colorado
Once again, we find ourselves in a state of shock, grief, anger, and loss after another school shooting, this time in a K-6 Christian school in Nashville, TN. While details are still emerging about the incident, I want to take the opportunity to respond to questions or concerns that may be swirling around your church or school.
As a father, husband, and son, my heart breaks for the families who lost their children and loved ones. However, as a security team leader, professional tactics trainer, and member of law enforcement, I don't have the luxury of simply processing my emotions and grieving the loss. Rather, I am compelled to compartmentalize the incident into timelines, tactics, and lessons learned. If anything positive can come out of this tragedy, it's that we can use the experience to learn and prepare to help prevent the next tragedy from occurring.
The following is a breakdown of the events that occurred at Covenant Christian School on March 27, 2023. I have included some of my thoughts and questions for you to consider as we strive to learn from this senseless act of violence.
The Arrival and Entering the School
The shooter pulled into the parking lot of the school at 9:53 am. Approximately 17 minutes later, at 10:10 am, they entered the main entrance of the school by breaching the glass doors with several shots fired from one of two rifles they were carrying. I believe that the need to breach the doors most likely saved lives. Shots being fired probably alerted faculty to the attack, which may have also resulted in the deployment of the alarm system. Had the doors been unlocked, the shooter would have most likely walked into the building unchallenged, catching more teachers and students by surprise and unprepared.
Thoughts to consider:
The first 911 call came to the Metro Nashville Police Department dispatch center at 10:13 am. Once inside the building, surveillance footage from interior cameras observed the shooter moving purposefully in and around the hallways and the office area of the school. The body language of this individual indicated that they had a single focus in mind, which was to find individuals to kill. Based on the video, it appeared that most students and faculty were either safely barricaded in their rooms or potentially evacuating out another door.
Thoughts to consider:
Law Enforcement Response
If you have watched the body camera footage of the two officers who responded to the attack at the school, you are seeing textbook active shooter response tactics in action. You will see the officers quickly assemble a two or three-man entry team. Their communications are concise and deliberate as they work together as a team. Their movements in clearing the initial rooms of threats are efficient and methodical. Once the gunfire was heard, their response to the second floor was expedient and coordinated. The tactics they used to position an officer with a specific weapon in the lead to stop the threat were all consistent with the training that patrol officers received. I have received much of the same training that these patrol officers had, and their tactics were spot on. Without a doubt, their training and speed of action saved lives.
Thoughts to consider:
As details continue to emerge, we are hearing stories of teachers who sheltered their children in closets and even evacuated them into the surrounding woods to ensure their safety. Imagine the terror, dread, and confusion felt by the parents as they begin to arrive at the school, not knowing if their child is safe or not. Reunifying children with their parents is the next important step once the crisis is over. This is a process that needs to be managed carefully and compassionately.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
I think it is clear to us all that had it not been for the heroics of the teachers and staff and the expedient response of law enforcement, this attack could have been far worse. This school had invested time and effort into developing its emergency response plan and had received training to help ensure that everyone could execute the plan when needed. Their preparation and actions bought them precious minutes that allowed law enforcement to respond and end the threat.
Brotherhood Mutual understands the need for ministries to be prepared and has created an entire online safety library filled with best practices, checklists, and training videos. They also have specialized coverages that we put on every policy to help a ministry heal and rebuild after a tragedy.
Our prayers are with the families impacted by this senseless act, and our hearts are with all of the Christian schools that we serve who may be feeling anxious or ill-prepared. As your risk management partner, please know that we're not only here to help you navigate the process of safeguarding your ministry, but we stand alongside you in the important role you play in helping our children come to know and love Jesus in a world that desperately needs him.
Craig is a sworn peace officer and serves as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for the patrol division at the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. has trained hundreds of security team leaders and volunteers and was the lead developer of the Safe and Secure & Church: The Ministry Approach training kit produced in partnership with Group Publishing and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.
If you have further questions about protecting your ministry, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright. © 2023 American Church Group of Colorado, LLC. All rights reserved. The information in this article is intended to help your ministry better understand issues of vulnerability and mitigate risks.? It does not constitute legal advice between an attorney and a client. If specific legal advice is required, your ministry is encouraged to consult with a local attorney. Neither Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, American Church of Colorado, LLC, nor the author assumes liability for reliance upon the information provided in this article.
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