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Site of Texas church massacre converted into memorial

15 November 2017

"Churches are vulnerable. We consider them a soft target, so we want everybody to know that there are things you can do with tragedies that occur. I get to stay home and just sleep, ' it's really our body coming together", Fielder Church member Chris Wong said, surrounded by almost 2,000 other members. "I think even if that's true, it's trumped by federal law". Once church members began leaving, the man exited his vehicle and shot Melanie Crow Smith, a 39-year-old mother of two, multiple times before bursting into the sanctuary.

Timing is paramount for shooting issues like this, Patnode said.

While security might be a newer challenge for many Christian churches, especially those in small rural communities, mosques and synagogues across the region have increased security measures steadily for years.

Brianna O'Brien, also a freshman at AIC, stated, "I never thought much about mass shootings until they started happening so frequently, two shootings nearly in the same month is definitely scary, and makes you on high alert nearly at all times". It's not disrespectful to the memory of the victims and the suffering community to do what we can to prevent this from happening to more people and more communities.

"You can't buy peace", Pastor Cosby said during an interview.

Many of those who attended said their main concern is safety for everyone in the community. All declined to be identified or have their churches identified for this story.

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Local law enforcement agencies, including Harris County Sheriff's Deputies and Constables, took an opportunity in the aftermath to visit numerous churches around town, where they reportedly spoke with pastors and parishioners, patrolled the grounds and looked for any suspicious activity.

"A lot of people walk around not really paying attention to what's going on around them, and they should be saying, 'Well, if something was going on here, what would I do?'" Officer LaPorte said. "So they may not be visible, but they are there".

"Hey, there is still good", Andrew Wong said.

One of the best pieces of advice police gave is to have a plan of action and if that fails, then you need to run, hide, or fight.

While many churches have long had plans for floods or tornadoes, Wohlrabe said violence and bloodshed in a church has always been seen as a societal taboo.

Pomeroy has said it would be too painful to continue using First Baptist Church as a place of worship. "Will we start second guessing who we smile at, who we invite to church, who we welcome in?" The normalization of the domestic attacks makes it hard for us to remember.

Site of Texas church massacre converted into memorial