FBI hosts situational awareness seminar at Florence church

FBI hosts situational awareness seminar at Florence church

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The FBI hosted a special seminar at a Florence church Thursday night in the wake of the Emmanuel AME church shooting in Charleston last June. Special Agent Rob Chadwick spoke at the event in front of an audience of law enforcement and church leadership.

The Florence Baptist Temple hosted the event for the Pee Dee region. The seminar was the first of four the FBI Columbia Office will put on this year.

The FBI began hosting these events specifically for houses of worship throughout South Carolina after the Charleston shooting. Special Agent Chadwick has been with the FBI the past 15 years, and shared with the audience mistakes or miscommunications from past tragedies to help people make better informed decisions.

"We want to draw out lessons learned, so that the next time we are as a society better equipped to react, and to save as many lives as possible," Chadwick said.

In doing so, Chadwick says you are honoring the victims. The majority of the time the shooters study previous attacks, law enforcement response, and improve upon a previous crime, and are always motivated by fame.

He said, "The higher body count they can rack up, the longer they'll be in the news and talked about. We know this drives them because we study them."

Almost 50 percent of church shootings do not occur during worship time, just like the victims from Emmanuel AME church. "We know they descended into helplessness and sat right where they were and killed where they sat, just absolutely devastating," Chadwick said.

Bill Crittenden attends Trinity United Methodist Church and went to the seminar to help work on a specific security group for his church.

"It was an impact on our family - it was a situation that type of thing could have happened in our church, we realize that and hopefully we would be prepared and it would not damage as it could if you weren't prepared," said Crittenden. "It certainly makes you stop and think and I believe if you share your thoughts from other churches and on security that you will get more information from groups that hopefully will be better."

The FBI active shooter study says there is no one profile of a shooter. Chadwick explained signs of who and what to look for, and says to always run, fight and get out. He says most of all, don't be afraid, be prepared.

"Think about it, it will save someone's life in this room or someone's loved one. I almost guarantee it," said Chadwick.

The next FBI's situational awareness seminar will be in Spartanburg on May 5th.

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