Threat Considerations to Faith Communities and the Community at Large

On July 26, 2016, the InfraGard Maryland Members Alliance (IMMA) co-hosted a full-day seminar at Garrett College with the Maryland Governor’s Faith-Based Community Outreach Initiative Office and the FBI. The seminar addressed threats to faith institutions and active shooter incidents.

The seminar drew nearly 100 attendees from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Other agency partnering representatives included Marvella Gray from the FBI’s Community Outreach Program and Jennifer Gray from the Governor’s office, who also emceed.

The audience consisted of stakeholders in the faith-based community, facilitators, leaders, directors of K-12 and higher education, retail and commercial facilities, and first responders. The speakers represented the FBI, Maryland State Police (MSP), Governor’s Office of Homeland Security (GOHS), and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Program participants include John Reginaldi, Reverend Medgar Reid, John Frank, Phil Lapp, Jennifer Gray, Marvella Gray, Gary Weinberg, and Robert Mueck. Not pictured: Bruce Lohr and Shelly Menear.

The possibility of hate crimes and terrorism make the threat of attack very realistic, and this seminar was the first outreach effort to help the stakeholders of the faith-based community identify threats and develop responses to address them.

The agenda focused on increasing the awareness to our faith-based community regarding physical threats of pre-incident, incident and post-incident considerations to mass-casualty events.

The seminar kicked off with an invocation followed by opening remarks from GOHS and Garrett County Sheriff’s Office. Steve Shepherd, FBI Special Agent and Behavioral Analysis Unit Assistant Coordinator, displayed examples of active shooter planning, such as a death manifesto posted on Facebook prior to an attack.

Keith Runk, Lieutenant, Maryland State Police, examined a variety of active shooter incidents. He also provided recommendations for bystanders, including a “Run, Hide, Fight” response. If unable to run or hide (the preferred options), bystanders were encouraged to fight back with weapons in their environment. Examples included throwing cans of food or chairs at the attacker.

Dr. Renee Murrell (Baltimore Field Office) addressed FBI resources for victims of active shooters and their families. Her presentation was emotionally moving. She recounted experiences working with victims and families from the Washington Navy Yard shooting, Boston Marathon bombing, and the attack on the Orlando nightclub.

IMMA received very positive feedback and successfully repeated the program several months later in Annapolis, MD.

Acknowledgments:

Rev. Medgar Reid, Director of Spiritual Care, Keswick Multi-Care Center for his spiritual Invocation.

John H. Frank, Garrett County Department of Public Safety & Emergency Management for his coordination and support.

Bruce Lohr, Community Crime Prevention Specialist with the State of Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, for his coordination of our venue, hotel, caterer, and his obtaining our AV Specialist.

Ms. Jennifer Gray, Director of Maryland Governor’s Interfaith Outreach Initiative and Marvella Gray, FBI Specialist with Baltimore Office, who had the vision to champion this very important subject and bring it with success to Western Maryland.

Photographs were taken by Christina Wong Poy, Administrative Director, Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Garrett College for providing space, audio-visual and logistics support as a courtesy.