Charleston shootings raise safety questions in places of worship

Detroiters gathered to honor the nine victims of the Charleston, South Carolina shootings.

Several attended a special service at Bethel A&E Church to pray for the victims, families and the alleged gunman Dylann Roof.

The shooting is also sparking questions about church security. Some worship leaders locally say that something must be done. 

Last summer a man showed up to a church in Detroit with an ax and confronted a police officer. A few years before that a man showed up to another Detroit church with a shotgun and went after his significant other.

Long before the Charleston tragedy churches have considered how to deal with dangerous situations. Now even more so.

Remote controlled cameras, security in plain clothes and even armed guards. Believe it or not this is all at a local church. 

FOX 2: "A lot of pastors are reluctant about having people carry in their churches but is that something you simply have to consider?"

"I think if someone was there and authorized," said Ray Washington, of Greater Grace Temple. "Maybe someone can meet that threat instantly as it happens and maybe you don't have as much violence or have as many victims."

Many churches are rethinking security measures after nine people were killed in cold blood at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Roof told his victims he came to kill black people 

Washington, the security director for Greater Grace Temple, says his team trains hard and often to keep this from happening here.

"In the unlikely event something happens like that, we attempt to address the situation and minimize it," Washington said. 

The homegrown terror attack reminds many of the assaults on black churches during the Civil Rights movement, most notably the bombing of 16th Street Church in Birmingham that killed four girls in 1963.

"Nine lives are gone, nine families, their lives are turned upside down," said Andre Spivey. "And their entire community is ripped apart."

Spivey, a Detroit city councilman and AME church pastor, knew one of the victims, Rev. Clementa Pinckney- so the tragedy more than 800 miles away hits close to home.

"We go back to almost 1996-97," Spivey said. "We preached together, we've traveled together. And our lives kind of parallel. We went into ministry at 18 years old. Both 41, now both married two children and both pastors and politicians."

The mass shooting which police call a hate crime targeted black church goers and bolsters an ongoing conversation about race relations. 

Detroit pastor and activist Rev. Charles Williams says its time everyone take it seriously. 

"Racism is not imaginary this is real it's happening in this country everyday," Williams said.  "We need to deal with this conversation in a real way. So we fight for justice but on Saturday we're going to pray for peace in the land."

A land where Charleston now proves that not even a house of worship is safe.
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