Valley churches trained to thwart active shooters - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Valley churches trained to thwart active shooters

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AUSTINTOWN, Ohio -

Since 1999, violent acts in churches and schools have gone up 2,400 percent.

Much has been done to make our schools safer, but what about our churches?

It takes three to five minutes for police to respond to an active shooter at a church. Usually by then it's too late.

Members of churches from around Mahoning County are meeting at Four Mile Run Christian Church to find ways to boost their own security by creating their own church security teams.

"It seems society is degrading, and we need to have things like this. Churches and schools used to be safe places that people could go to. Now, with everything that's going on in the world, it's not so safe anymore, and we want to provide a safe environment for people to come worship with us," said Pastor Mike Smith.

Shooters target churches because they are considered soft targets.

For the most part, anyone who goes to church isn't carrying a weapon of any kind.

And when you are sitting in church, your back is almost always to the door and that gives the shooter the element of surprise.

Barry Young is a security expert who is training church groups across the country on how not to be a victim of violence.

"If a criminal or attacker come against you and you plead for your life, you are never going to win that. Even if you are totally unarmed and an armed attacker comes against you and you fight that attacker, there is a 39 percent chance you will live. So what we want to do is train churches to attack the attacker. Don't be a good little victim," says Young.

Young says churches should train a group of members to know what to look for, know how to get people out of the church when an active shooter comes in and know how and when to take out the shooter on their own if needed.

The training at the Austintown church continues on Saturday.

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