By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- It was a cold Sunday on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, 9 December 2007.
The Colonel (my wife) and I were attending a pre-Christmas party with a group of Air Force friends. The TV was on in the home we were socializing at when the news of the shooting at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs came on screen.
People were dead, people were dying and families’ lives were shattered.
My home at that time was only a couple of miles away from the New Life Church (NLC) campus. If you look east from the US Air Force Academy across the I-25 interstate you will see the New Life campus.
NLC has a commanding presence in north Colorado Springs. Carl Chinn was involved in the campus security of the NLC. When gunshots started to be reported he moved quickly to the sound of those guns.
This was not Carl’s first “rodeo” of faith-based campus violence. He had been a responding employee to a duress alarm when a disgruntled, former building contractor employee showed up on the faith-based campus of Focus on the Family (FOTF) also in Colorado Springs, CO. The domestic terrorist (DT) who presented himself on the FOTF campus on 2 May 1996 was armed with a Walther pistol and a backpack he claimed was full of explosives. Carl Chinn was not armed that day.
But because of Carl’s command and control of the situation no one died that day in May, which also happened to be National Day of Prayer.
The cold winter Sunday in December of 2009 was to turn out much different. Church members died in the parking lot of the NLC before the planned and prepared church campus security could even intervene. However, the planning, preparation, and training for safety and security on the NLC campus, did allow for the direct response and end of further deadly violence that day.
The terrorist was armed with multiple handguns and an AR-15 semi-auto rifle. He was found with 1,400 rounds of ammunition. The DT’s plan was to kill church members in the parking lot on his way into the sanctuary and then kill as many parishioners as he could once he entered the building. His actions were well planned out: to include throwing smoke grenades at two different entrance doors to create confusion. The DT had also planned and killed two missionary trainees in the Denver area the night before.
On this day Carl Chinn, a volunteer in his church security ministry was armed as he responded to the shooter. Not very well armed by his own admission (32acp Kel-Tec pistol) but he put his life between that shooter and his church family. Another member of the church security team who surprised the shooter from a position closer than Carl’s location was able to engage the DT with her handgun and stop the violence.
I first met Carl Chinn when he spoke at an American Society of Industrial Security luncheon. Later as a Colorado Ranger I attended a day long church campus safety and security awareness seminar with Carl. Carl’s web site www.carlchinn.com has according to the Washington Post, the most comprehensive collection of deadly force incidents at ministries (church campus and other property) available.
I had reviewed that website before I attended the seminar. I noticed that church members attending the seminar were just not grasping the severity and the ever-increasing numbers of church campus violence. I spoke to Carl on break and he was able to project on-screen during our in-house lunch rolling synopses of church campus violence.
The attendee’s interest and perhaps the shock was apparent at the afternoon sessions. I am now an auxiliary police officer with a suburban Milwaukee, County, Wisconsin police department and was posted on the home of Wade Page, the shooter who killed six members of the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. I was there the night of 5 August 2012, as the FBI evidence collection team worked. Lots of law enforcement responded, but sadly it was too late for six innocent worshippers.
Carl Chinn has written a book Evil Invades Sanctuary (carlchinn.com) about his experiences dealing with and preparing to interrupt future faith-based campus violence. It is eye-opening, it is sad, it will make you angry, but most importantly it will get you thinking about church campus security. It is not a “how-to” security book, it is a “why-to”. The underlying theme is campus safety.
Safety is not just stopping a violent shooter, it is about planning, preparing and then working hard to keep the church campus and its members as safe as possible-what ever the danger. But remember, evil is always there. Church campus leaders need to read this book.
Major Van Harl USAF Ret
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret. , is a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Now retired, these days he enjoys camping, traveling, volunteering with the Girl Scouts and writing. [email protected]