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Why Churches Need Safety & Security Training

Another church incident with recognizable behaviors of criminal activity prior to the event!

This incident that happened on Friday November 11, 2022,

in Portsmouth, VA is yet another example of why your church needs to have a layered security program along with a balance of technology and training for staff/volunteers. Behavior Recognition & Response plays out yet again. It's a blessing that Deacon Lewis was able to escape this incident without injury.

In this article take a closer look to some of the facts:

1) The suspect vehicle made 3 circles around the church parking lot prior to the incident.

2) The church is used as a voting poll.

3) Closed Circuit Television captured the suspect before and after the shooting.

4) The church has a security team.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It wasn’t the Portsmouth Police Department, but Senior Pastor Martha Provo who informed 10 On Your Side that her church, St. Mark Deliverance Center on Turnpike Road, was the scene of a crime that was caught on surveillance camera.

“My concern is that we need to let it be known the person is out there and is very dangerous, said Provo in a Zoom interview.

On Wednesday night while the pastor was away, choir rehearsal, which is made up of around 20 people, was held as usual while Deacon Jasper Lewis patrolled the parking lot.

Just before 7 p.m., Jasper noticed the driver of a blue pickup, believed to be a Nissan, had circled the parking lot twice.

“A third time around he came back with his lights off this time. He backed up and after a minute no more than two he was just there and then shots rang out,” Lewis said. “That’s when I scrambled to get to the door and he took off.”

Lewis, a 68-year-old Army veteran, told 10 On Your Side that he does not know the driver and he knows of no reason why someone would harm him

Members say four shots were fired. After the incident, Deacon Lewis learned his shoe and clothing were hit by gunfire, but his flesh was untouched.

“The bullet hit my shoe; it went through my pants and all the legs of my pants left and right,” Lewis explained.

Pastor Provo says she is concerned about the nature of the attack given the nation’s history of violence against Black churches.

“Indeed that was one of my major concerns. I want to ensure that this is nothing that would be a hate crime,” Parvo said. “So we are not sure and I cannot address that at this moment but that is one of my concerns.”

Deacon Lewis said his faith has helped him through would could have been a deadly ordeal.

“Nothing but God and being covered by the blood just being covered by the blood and trying to be as faithful as I can to God serving the ministry,” Lewis said.

Deacons Lewis and Chukuma Awanna, who oversees security at St. Mark, say they know of no reason why someone would open fire at St. Mark, which served as a voting precinct on election day.

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