Church representatives from as far as Chattanooga and Southeastern Kentucky met in Knoxville on Saturday to participate in active shooter response training.
That’s something many people hope they won’t need to ever use in a church.
"We live in different times," Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor Mark Kirk said. "This is a time, unfortunately, where the church needs to be more prepared, although I wish we didn’t have to."
That’s why Kirk opened up a Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training course to any churches interested in taking the class.
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More than 500 people from over 100 churches came to the two hour course.
"We had no idea we’d have this kind of response," Kirk said. "It’s been really overwhelming and it just shows to me the need that’s out there."
Detective Kris Mynatt with the Roane County Sheriff’s Office led the course, teaching attendees to "avoid, deny and defend" if they ever encountered an active shooter.
That means avoid the shooter if possible, deny them entry to where they are seen, and if all else fails, fight back.
"If you’re trying to deliberate a plan when the chaos happens, it doesn’t work," Mynatt said.
He emphasized the importance of always finding multiple ways to escape a room or building if necessary.
That’s something West Park Baptist Church security volunteer Steve Parker said he had never really thought about.
"Really as we as individuals go throughout our lives, [we] do not really take away our surroundings, our environment," said Parker. "Whether it’s here in a building, at a restaurant, a church."
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Parker and Kirk are glad to now have an understanding of how to deal with an active shooter.
"Hopefully nothing ever happens, but if something ever does we want to make sure that we know what we’re supposed to do so that our people are protected," said Kirk.
The training was held at Calvary Chapel in Knoxville.
Kirk said if the interest remains, he’d be open to holding another CRASE training session.