DEADLY FORCE INCIDENTS ASSOCIATED WITH FAITH-BASED OPERATIONS IN THE U.S.
The FBSN has taken over the Deadly Force Incident study started by Carl Chinn in 1999. This important study is now being conducted by a team of FBSN volunteers working through 2018 details. You will see updates as soon as they are ready, but can see we have started tracking into 2018 now.
Return to this page often to see how the effort is progressing.
FIRST REPORTS OF MOST RECENT DEVELOPING STORIES (BELOW) UPDATED 1/20/2021
All crimes are “alleged” pending court. All offenders are innocent until proven guilty. Some of the following current stories may not make the final cut of qualified deadly force incidents, but we want you to know what we are watching.
1-16-21 St. Louis MO – Unnamed Church. A man helped a woman load donated food into her car at a church, then stole her car and all the donated food at gunpoint.
1-14-21 Russell County AL — Uchee Pines Seventh Day Advent Church. Police are investigating a murder at the church. They are not saying how 38-year-old Christopher Roper was killed.
1-14-21 Pottsville PA – 1st United Methodist church. A man walking his dog in front of the church was attacked by a gunman who killed his dog and sent the man to the hospital in a helicopter.
1-13-21 Burlington NC – Unnamed Church. A man was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he drove into the church parking lot and intentionally rammed a police officer’s vehicle with his own.
1-9-21 Lodi CA – Community Church. Two men were arrested after 1 of them threw an explosive device at people he was angry with outside his own church during a funeral.
1-3-21 Bellport PA — Philadelphia Bible Way Community Church. Police were investigating shots fired into the façade of the church just after noon that Sunday.
1-3-21 Winona TX — Starrville Methodist Church. Senior Pastor Mark McWilliams was killed with his own gun in a confrontation with a fugitive hiding in the church.
1-1-21 Lewiston ME — Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. A fugitive in a stolen truck was located hiding behind the church and ran the truck towards an officer who shot and wounded the suspect.
1-1-21 St. Petersburg FL — 1st Mt. Pilgrim Evangelical Missionary Baptist Church. Just after the clock struck midnight a bullet came through the roof and ceiling and hit the floor close to where about 15 congregants were celebrating the new year.
12-29-20 Columbus GA — First Church of God. Officers had completed an investigation of a burglar alarm at the church at 3:00 AM and were writing their report in the parking lot when they came under gunfire.
Disclaimer Notice on incident stories and statistics: All crimes are “alleged” pending court. All offenders are innocent until proven guilty.
Extensive effort has been made to verify accuracy in each story summary. Information is gathered from major news syndicates, law enforcement press releases, and public court records. While great care is taken with the wording of each incident, a certain margin of error exists in any collection of data. I welcome any corrective suggestions discovered by readers. I cannot be held responsible for errors, but will correct any error discovered as soon as more accurate information is confirmed.
This incident tracking includes all incidents where the senior pastor (and / or members of the pastor’s family) was murdered (or committed suicide) at their home, or murdered someone else themselves. Such an event would impact any church deeply, so we need to know about these as well. Though relatively few, it makes it difficult for those wanting a simple narrative of these incidents happening, “only at churches and faith-based organizations.” A proper way of saying it, is “directly impacting churches and faith-based organizations” OR “Associated with …”
When I started tracking deadly force incidents associated with faith-based organizations I had ideas of what such an incident looked like. Those ideas came from archetypical stories like Alvin Lee King (6/22/1980) or Shon Miller (3/10/1999) shooting church congregants as they sat in a worship service. As reading dozens of stories in a few years turned into researching hundreds of stories over more than a decade, a clearer understanding of the assorted nature of deadly force incidents emerged. Details of every attack are unique, but patterns developed and trends emerged to challenge pre-conceived notions. The reality of vulnerabilities and what really constituted a deadly force incident expanded.
By 2005, I knew that the number of deadly force incidents I had recorded surprised others as I disclosed the findings – nobody had any idea of the frequency and volume of deadly force incidents related to US churches and ministries. I wanted to publish the findings — to list stories that would be of applicable interest to church security operators and to provide occasional details as lessons learned.
One of the biggest misconceptions I still encounter with some readers is that we should only be concerned about an incident that has something to do specifically with the church – an opinion that we should analyze the details of an attack on faith-based property to see if there was some sort of “connection” to the ministry.
As if a stabbing at a Wal-Mart would have to be related to the cost of underwear for store security to be concerned? If a dead body showed up on the front steps of your home it would be irrelevant to you? If a drug deal turned bad and ended with gunfire on the White House lawn it wouldn’t be noteworthy if the President wasn’t even there at the time and no connection to the President could be confirmed? Any church that has experienced violence on their grounds knows how personal it is, whether it happened during a service or not and regardless of the connection to the church.
Connection is between the church and the community. If we become so disconnected as to not care when a gang fight in our parking lot claims a young life, we are missing our mission. The Central Church of Christ of Sarasota Florida modeled this connection for others after the body of 11-year old Carlie Brucia was found in their parking lot on Feb 5th 2004 following her abduction from a nearby car wash on Feb 1st. Though no evidence suggested she was actually killed there, the church now conducts an annual “Kids Safety Rally” and maintains a “Garden of Joy” in Carlie’s honor. It hit them as it should. It was their community and the crime had a dark and significant component of it that occurred on their property.
I also know there are still stories missed. I know police officers who have worked homicides, attempted homicides and suicides at faith-based properties where there was never any discoverable information publicized. If not allowed to list the source in the data base, I do not publish the story.
A deadly force incident is still one of the least likely things to happen at a ministry. The research published on this website verifies it happens more than previously thought.
Statistics can be found (or manipulated) to support predetermined opinions. So care must be taken in the gathering and presentation. I try very hard to discover and present simple truth in numbers and narratives. There is no agenda aside from information for the proliferation of awareness in order to start, improve or confirm safety and security readiness in faith-based operations.
This website is not in competition with any other website, speaker or author. Others contribute many good things through their websites and diverse venues. Paul said, “Test everything. Hold on to the good,”[i] Test what you find here and on other sites then apply the combination of all the best to your specific ministry. But get started .
You will find incidents from this year and the last full year prior summarized on this site. There are volumes of news stories, court documents, and eyewitness accounts of these stories compiled into statistical information which has been summarized in the tab of VIOLENCE STATISTICS in order to establish meaningful data.
Contact me at email@example.com if you wish to offer information on any of the listed stories, ones missed, or for a copy of the “Story Source and Publishing Policy.”
Thank you for your visit to this website, and keep up the great work of keeping His people safe.
[i] 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (New International Version)
Copyright Notice: If you can use any material on this website to make churches or ministries safer, please do so. Please pass on the information as freely as it is given.