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Marshall County sheriff prepping churchgoers for active shooter

PLYMOUTH, Ind. - On the heels of the Florida school massacre, the Marshall County Sheriff's Department is preparing churchgoers for an active shooter.

“Who knows who might be next?” said Charlie Sauter, who attends the First United Church of Christ in Bremen.

Marshall County Sheriff Matthew Hassel showed slide after slide of deadly church shootings that happened in just the last few years, starting with South Carolina, where nine people were murdered at bible study.

“I hate to say it, but it’s not if, it’s when. So the best way to help protect your people and to give them that feeling of comfort and safety is to be prepared," said Sheriff Hassel.

He says after the 2017 Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting left 26 people dead, the Indiana Sheriff's Association decided to arm parishioners with a prevention plan.

“Nothing’s worse than being in an emergency and not knowing what to do," said Sheriff Hassel.

His own church, the First United Church of Christ in Bremen, has started making changes.

"We've started locking our doors on Sunday, and I don’t like that idea at all. It takes away from the idea that a church is a welcoming place," said fellow parishioner, Charlie Sauter.

Some are even considering welcoming an active shooter with weapons of their own.

“I guess if they have the training, and they can go through with everything to keep us safe, then I’m okay with it," said Tina Morales, who attends the First United Church of Christ in Plymouth.

“I’ve been a member of I’ve rarely in my 37 years as a police officer wore my gun to a church service. I didn’t feel like I had to, and today I have a different attitude about that," said the sheriff.

The sheriff reports that across the United States, 1,018 deadly force incidents and 549 deaths have happened on religious properties in the past two decades.

If you want a copy of the packet handed out at Thursday's training session or information on an active shooter class, call the Marshall County Sheriff's Department at (574) 936-3187.

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