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Church conducts active shooter drill, raises safety awareness | News

FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) – Midstate church security teams and pastors are learning what to do if they come face-to-face with an active shooter through a drill.

The drill comes a little over a week after a shooting at a Texas church.

“So, it puts them in his position and allows them to see in real time, could they have done it?,” Ken Alexandrow with Agape Tactical said.

Alexandrow runs training scenarios to help people learn from real active shooter situations including the one in Texas.

During that shooting, a man opened fire and killed two people. A church security member shot him dead. It happened in about six seconds.

“Any time you have an incident, you need to have an after action review so we can learn from those incidents so we’re not doomed to repeat them,” Alexandrow said.

Church security teams and pastors heard what they can do to better protect their congregants and prevent a shooting from happening inside their church.

If that happens, they’ll also know how to protect themselves.

“People don’t come here to think about safety and security, but unfortunately, we live in a time where churches are some of the most unprotected places,” Dean Barham, Spiritual Life Minister at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ said.

Barham said the man who shot the shooter in Texas helped save the lives of others.

“I think actually that’s a gift of God too. Some people will teach and preach. Other people are in places to help other people be safe,” Barham said. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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Shooter among two dead in Texas church attack

(Reuters) – A gunman who opened fire in a Texas church, killing one person and leaving another in critical condition, died after parishioners at the Sunday morning service shot him in response, authorities said.

The Fort Worth Fire Department said three people, including the person who they believed to be the shooter, were transported from the scene in critical condition. The scene was secure, they added.

Two of the people, including the shooter, died while en route to the hospital, and the third person was successfully resuscitated by paramedics, according to Macara Trusty, a spokeswoman for local emergency services MedStar. Two more people sustained minor injuries as they ducked for cover inside the church, she said.

The incident took place in White Settlement, a suburb northwest of Fort Worth, at the West Freeway Church of Christ.

White Settlement police chief J.P. Bevering said that the gunman was shot by two worshippers who were armed and returned fire. “The threat is stopped based on the heroic actions of the two parishioners in the church,” Bevering said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement: “Places of worship are meant to be sacred, and I am grateful for the church members who acted quickly to take down the shooter and help prevent further loss of life.”

The shooting was captured on video as the church service was apparently being streamed on YouTube, according to the New York Daily News.

“You feel like your life is flashing before you. I was so worried about my little one,” witness Isabel Arreola told CBS 11.

The shooting came a day after an assailant with a knife stabbed five people at a Hanukkah party in New York.

Reporting by Maria Caspani and Sharon Bernstein, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Riley Howell, who died stopping UNC Charlotte shooter, honored as ‘Star Wars’ Jedi master

UNC Charlotte student and “Star Wars” superfan Riley Howell touched hearts nationwide after heroically giving his life while protecting classmates from a mass shooter in April. In honor of the late Star Warrior’s sacrifice, Lucasfilm has made Howell a “Jedi master,” reports radio station WFAE.

The Lucasfilm story group “has incorporated a re-imagining of Riley’s name as a character in the ‘Star Wars’ galaxy,” Lucasfilm fan relations representative Lucas O. Seastrom wrote in a letter to Howell’s family this past May. He appears in the newly-published Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — The Visual Dictionary,” based on the space opera’s latest installment, which opened in theaters last week.

The student hero and ROTC cadet was immortalized in the space compendium as Jedi master Ri-Lee Howell, one of the lightsaber-wielding guardians of the galaxy. His character is also a “historian … [who] collected many of the earliest accounts of explorations and codifications of the Force in the Aionomica,” an interstellar scrapbook, per the dictionary.  It’s a fitting tribute given Howell’s “encyclopedic knowledge” of “Star Wars,” said friend Matthew Westmoreland in a Reddit post.

Even “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill — Luke Skywalker himself — threw his support behind Howell’s induction into George Lucas lore. He tweeted his support Tuesday afternoon.

Howell inclusion in the series came about serendipitously when an internet fan read about his “Star Wars” affinity and reached out to the franchise big-wigs.

Word of Howell’s baptism into Star Wars-dom has since gone viral on Reddit, sparking an outpouring of support. “He became something even greater than he grew up idolizing. A hero then and a hero now,” said one newfound fan.

“Now and forever the name Riley Howell will be synonymous with the way of the Jedi — heroic, courageous and selfless. My condolences and may the force be with you,” said another.

Most importantly, the gesture honors Howell’s heroic deed. This past May, the 21-year-old UNC student died while tackling a gunman who opened fire in a University of North Carolina at Charlotte classroom. His courageous sacrifice saved lives in the rampage, which killed two people and left four injured.

“He was a hero to us even before this [his Star Wars immortalization] happened,” said Westmoreland.

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1 person was killed in a shooting at North Carolina municipal building. The shooter is also dead

The shooter, identified as 61-year-old Steven Dewayne Haizlip, was killed in a gunfight with police, police Chief Catrina Thompson told reporters.

Two people were injured — one of the officers who confronted the shooter and a third city employee, Thompson said.

Investigators believe Haizlip specifically targeted the deceased victim, 48-year-old Terry Lee Cobb Jr., another longtime employee, Thompson said.

The two apparently had a “longstanding dislike for each other,” police Capt. Steven Tollie said, stressing that it was still early in the investigation.

“The source of that dislike I don’t have at this time,” he said, but investigators have learned that Haizlip and Cobb had an altercation off-site on Thursday that was not reported to their employer.

“I believe that altercation, at least at this stage of the investigation, appears to be the catalyst for today’s incident,” Tollie said.

Police are categorizing the incident as workplace violence, the police chief told reporters, but she urged Winston-Salem’s citizens to be prepared for other types of violence, such as active-shooter situations.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting aspect of the incident, according to protocol.

‘Fight or flight’

Police were dispatched to the Jocelyn V. Johnson Municipal Services Center at 6:37 a.m. following reports of a shooting, Thompson said.

Officers confronted Haizlip, and one of them, Sgt. Cameron Stewart Sloan, was wounded twice in the ensuing gunfight. He had surgery at Wake Forrest University Baptist Medical Center.

Police found Cobb dead inside the complex, Thompson told reporters. Another city employee, who was not identified, was found with a serious but non-life-threatening gunshot wound, she said. That victim — who police believe was not targeted — was also hospitalized.

Sanitation worker Dwight Black told CNN affiliate WXII he was running five minutes late when he parked. He was about to enter the building when people ran out past him and said, “They’re shooting. Run!”

“Fight or flight,” Black, 66, told the station. “I just followed suit.”

He went back to his car and waited until police arrived, Black said. Others got in their cars and drove away.

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Survivor of the attack on a Jersey City kosher supermarket came face-to-face with shooter, reports say

David Lax was in the JC Kosher Supermarket, according to CNN affiliate WCBS, when the suspects, who first killed a police officer at another location, attacked the store, fatally shooting three people before engaging in an hours-long standoff with police. Lax was also shot in the attack, but made it out of the store.

He told WCBS that he could tell the duo came to kill by the way they came into the store.

“A lot of big bangs, it took me a minute to get, OK this is gunshots, and then everyone jumped on the floor,” Lax told WABC. “I dropped to the floor and then I thought, it’s over. I mean, bullets flying all over.”

Lax told the station that from the floor he could see bullets flying and black raincoats passing by. He stood up, he said, and was facing the second shooter.

“At that time, I thank God I had the courage, I had the right mind, I just re-directed her arm and ran out of the store,” Lax told the station.

Investigated as an act of terrorism

Authorities are not yet sure why the shooters — David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50 — attacked the officer and the store, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said. But it is being investigated as an act of terrorism with “a hate-crime bias slant.”

“We believe the suspects held views that reflected hatred of the Jewish people, as well as a hatred of law enforcement,” Grewal said, citing evidence and witness interviews.

Who are the Black Hebrew Israelites?
Both shooters expressed an interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, though neither appear to have formal links to the movement, Grewal said. Some members of the movement have expressed anti-Semitic sentiments in the past.

Investigators are checking a note found in a stolen U-Haul truck that the killers drove to the market — a note that contained both anti-Semitic and anti-police writing, a law enforcement source told CNN. Posts with similar sentiments also have been found on social media linked to the shooters, the source said.

“Our community has been terrorized once again by violent anti-Semitism,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement. “From Pittsburgh to Poway, and now to Jersey City, the disease that is anti-Semitism has clearly spread to epidemic proportions.”

“But we will not be defeated, we will not stand down, we will not be intimidated,” Greenblatt said.

Surveillance video shows the shooters approaching the store.

Deadly attack began at a cemetery

Authorities have said that the attack began near a city cemetery where the shooters killed Jersey City Police Det. Joseph Seals.

He was trying to stop the shooters when he was killed, police have said.

A bystander called 911 to report Seals’ body at the cemetery at 12:38 p.m., authorities said. But by that time, the shooters had already driven the stolen U-Haul to the market and began their attack.

Surveillance video shows the pair get out, and a man — Anderson, police say — walks directly toward the store, apparently ignoring several people on the sidewalk nearby, and starts firing a gun into it before entering. Graham follows, police say.

Police arrived at the supermarket around 20 minutes after the attack began, starting a long shootout that left two police officers injured.

The shooters were armed with an AR-15-style weapon, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, a 9mm Ruger semiautomatic firearm and a 9mm Glock 17, with a pipe bomb and a fifth gun in the U-Haul, Grewal said. If not for the actions of the police, they could have dome more harm, Grewal said.

Around 3:25 p.m., a police armored vehicle broke into the supermarket’s entryway, and law enforcement soon found the bodies of the three victims and two attackers inside the store, Grewal said.

The three people in the market were Mindy Ferencz, 31, the store’s co-owner; Moshe Deutsch, 24, a customer; and Douglas Miguel Rodriguez, 49, a store employee.

Store owner next door as his wife died

Two of the four victims were laid to rest Wednesday night.

In Jersey City, crowds of men in black hats surrounded Ferencz’s casket in the Jersey City neighborhood of Greenville at the site of a synagogue under construction. Hundreds of women, separated from the men as per Orthodox Jewish tradition, were standing in the bitter cold sobbing.

Jersey City shooting victims are an officer who responded and civilians in a kosher deli

Ferencz owned the store with her husband, who was next door at the small synagogue at the time of the attack, according to Yossi Steinmetz who was there as well.

When shots broke out, her husband desperately tried to call her and tell her to lock the doors to take cover, Steinmetz said. She didn’t answer.

At Deutsch’s Brooklyn funeral, mourners spoke in Hebrew through tears as at least a dozen NYPD counterterrorism officers and nearly 100 “Shomrim” members — Hebrew for guardians — stood watch.

Deutsch and Ferencz both had ties to the Jewish community in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“This is just an atrocity. Of course, we accept everything but this is more than we can handle,” Deutsch’s cousin, also named Moshe Deutsch, told CNN. “The question is, is it a sign of hatred? Is it a sign that we are not safe in New York anymore?”

CNN’s Elizabeth Joseph, Melanie Schuman, Alec Snyder, Alexandra Field, Rob Frehse, Evan Simko-Bednarski, Nicole Chavez and Julian Cummings contributed to this report.

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