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Community members weigh safety options after FBI warns of threats against places of worship

People, communities of faith weigh options for safety
Posted at 11:07 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 19:36:32-05

DENVER —- Following a warning from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security about threats against house of worship, some people and communities of faith are weighing options for safety.

In a joint letter, the agencies offered additional resources to protect and mitigate attacks against places of worship following an 11-hour hostage standoff in Texas over the weekend.

In Colorado, images of the ordeal left some riddled with anxiety and anguish.

"It's, of course, upsetting that this is happening to people that I identify with and culture and religion that I'm a part of," said a man who wished to be identified only as Marc. "It's also makes me very sad that stuff like this is still so prevalent in today's society."

Marc has a law enforcement background and serves as a volunteer security guard for a Jewish congregation in the state.

"I wish I didn't have to, but with everything going on today and in today's world, I feel safer," he said. "I feel like my family is safer when I do carry my firearm and that's not just every day, but especially now when I'm at a place of worship or at my temple."

He's not alone. After gunfire broke out at New Life Church in Colorado Springs back in 2007, it was Jeanne Assam who quickly stepped into action.

"I knew I had to kill him before he killed anymore people," she said during an interview with Denver7.

Assam, a former Minneapolis police officer, was volunteering for the church as a security guard at the time.

During the 2007 ordeal, the shooter was was angry with Christians, according to investigators.

"The angriest of people are going to go to the most vulnerable places, which, you know, typically are houses of worship or other religious places," she said. "And they’re going to go where people are typically not armed. And that's why they choose those easy targets, because criminals are cowards."

As active shooter situations continue to unfold across the country in a variety of places, her advice for businesses and places of worship is that they find and seek out security teams.

"There’s so many things, situational awareness that police officers are also taught that civilians are not," she said. "It’s a lot more than just shooting a gun at a piece of paper and having a good target. Places that don’t have [a security team] in place, they need to. If they don’t already have a safety team in place, they need to, and I would do it sooner than later."