SAN ANTONIO – Leaders from churches across the city gathered Tuesday morning at Castle Hills Church to hear local law enforcement officials talk about ways they can protect their congregations in the wake of the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs that left 26 people dead.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the reality is that most mass shootings cannot be prevented.
"These types of incidents are not preventable if we don't have intelligence that they're going to happen or something is brewing," McManus said.
In the case of Sutherland Springs and the shooting at a Las Vegas country music concert several weeks earlier, there was no such information.
"All we can do is be prayed up, have security on-site, be prepared to handle a situation and diffuse it as quickly as possible if it should happen," said Arthur Stork, owner of Choice Security which works for New Life Christian Center.
While McManus' message was honest about the likelihood of preventing an attack, he said steps can be taken to minimize risk.
"The bulk of that security needs to really take place outside the venue, because once a person gets inside, it's too late," McManus said after playing a video showing the crowd tips on what to do if a shooter enters the workplace.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar and District Attorney Nico LaHood also addressed the group.
"I think the message today is that we need to be diligent, not paranoid," LaHood said. "We don't want to live a life of paranoia, or else the evil wins out."
Speakers during Tuesday's event talked about how Christians have been targets of violence and persecution for years and that the risk of mass shootings will not shake their faith.
"I cannot guarantee your safety, ladies and gentleman. But the one thing I can speak to is your security," said Dr. Ed Newton, lead pastor of Community Bible Church. "And I'm not talking about your flesh. I'm talking about your soul."
The law enforcement representatives on hand offered to host town hall meetings at churches whose leadership was interested and help each congregation come up with a security plan specific to its own building and sanctuary.