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Mass shootings prompt Acadiana churches to step up security - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Mass shootings prompt Acadiana churches to step up security

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Lafayette, LA -

Some churches in Acadiana are reviewing their security measures after Sunday's deadly mass shooting at a Sutherland Springs, Texas church.

The death toll has reached 26, and at least 20 others were injured when police say the 26-year-old gunman, Devin Kelley, opened fire on the congregation.

While churches across the country offer prayers to those affected, some pastors are wondering how churches can remain welcoming places but also remain safe.      

"It's very disheartening to see the moral decay that's taking place throughout this world," said Riverside Church of Christ Outreach Minister Danny Hebert.

In the wake of the deadly shooting in Texas, members at Riverside Church of Christ showed support the best way they know how.

"Those that have been injured, we pray for quick healing. We also pray for the family members of those that have lost their lives. And also, we pray for the shooter's family. I'm sure they're going through them trials themselves," said Hebert.

The massacre in Sutherland Springs, and the other mass shootings in churches that came before it, have all had some effect on churches nationwide. That includes those in Acadiana; some of which decided it was time to take action.

"It raises a lot of questions with the members of, 'What can we do about this to protect ourselves?' said Hebert.

Once worship services get started, the church has been locking every door in the building for about a year. One person is also posted at each exit to monitor anyone trying to come in or go out of the facility.

"The sheriff's department has a deputy that will come to your church and evaluate your church and to show you the things that need to be checked, or things that you need to watch for or things that need to be changed," said Hebert.

For Riverside Church of Christ, the deputy suggested adding locks to any room with access to a main exit. Hebert said church members have taken notice.

"It's given them a sense of relief and a sense of security knowing that they can concentrate on the church service and knowing that somebody is at least watching out for their safety," said Hebert.

Hebert said that doesn't mean locking in the entire congregation every week is anyone's ideal Sunday service.

"Church should be a place that you feel secure. Church is one place that should never have a locked door. Church is a place where you should be secure all the time," said Hebert.

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