TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– It’s now the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history. A gunman at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas killed more than 20 people on Sunday.
Authorities have not said what may have motivated the suspected shooter, Devin Kelley, who was later found dead in his vehicle. Authorities said they don’t know if the wound was self-inflicted or the result of a resident who fired on the suspect as he fled the church.
“It’s just astonishing to me, it’s just flabbergasting, it really is flabbergasting,” co-pastor of Christ the Victor Church in Hi-Crest Shampayne Lloyd said.
She said Sunday’s mass shooting is an act of evil.
If something like this were to happen at her place of worship, the first reaction would be security.
“That would be first thing, would be safety for our parishioners, our church members, that safety is first,” Lloyd said.
First Baptist Church here in Topeka, which has the same name as the church in the Texas shooting, has a risk management team.
Pastor Cheryl Henson said they’re constantly making improvements to keep their church safe.
“We have had our locks re-fit to make sure that doors can be locked,” Henson said.
Local pastors said their hearts are broken because a place where you should feel the most safe is now in question.
“I just really pray for the people there,” Henson said. “And everywhere because you just never know when it will be your city or your church.”
But Lloyd wants to make sure every person of faith doesn’t let this shy them away.
“Please don’t be scared, don’t let these kind of, this evil, dictate to us how were gonna live our lives,” Lloyd said. “We are stronger than this.”
Kansas has had a few shootings in places of worship as well.
In 1988, a gunman killed one person and injured four others during a Sunday service in Emporia.
In Wichita, in 2009 Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed while serving as an usher during a Sunday service.
In 2014, outside a Jewish community center, three people were killed, and just this year, in Kansas City, a greeter at Refuge Church was injured from a gunshot.