Robbed at gunpoint at the church where I pastor
This is a discussion on Robbed at gunpoint at the church where I pastor within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm new to this forum, and have alluded to this a few times, and several members have sent me private messages asking me to give ...
December 11th, 2013 10:42 AM
Robbed at gunpoint at the church where I pastor
I'm new to this forum, and have alluded to this a few times, and several members have sent me private messages asking me to give more detail into what happened - so, here goes...
First, here's the news story that our local station ran.
Yakima Pastor Robbed Before Sunday Service
I'm the pastor at Christ the King Community Church in Yakima, Washington.
Another thing you should know about me is that I'm 6'4", 320, and long before my days of pastoring, I was a very good street fighter and know how to handle myself in hand-to-hand encounters. I've never really thought much about carrying until now.
So, on with the story...
It was Sunday morning, November 17th. I usually arrive at the church building around 5am to get ready for the day's work, and the police would tell me later that this habitual arrival time was a negative, as these dudes were likely casing the building for a couple of weeks or more.
I'm going about my work, and I had just gone outside to place some signs out on the sidewalk. I came back into the building at about 5:50am, and as I was going my work in the main part of our worship area (sanctuary), two men walked through our front doors. One was my size minus a couple of inches, and the other was much smaller. The bigger guy had a semi-auto handgun drawn and pointed at me. The one with the gun pointed at me told me to come over to where they were. So, I put my hands out in an open fashion and complied. When I got to where they were, the guy with the gun put it about two inches from my nose - close enough for me to see the bullet in the short barrel - and demanded of me to give him all my cash - and then with his right arm (which was holding the gun), he shoved me hard into my assistant's desk which is in our entry way. I got up, and he put the gun squarely back in my face.
I told him I had no cash. I even pulled out my wallet and showed him that I carry no cash, just credit/debit cards. He said, "give me your credit cards", and the second man said, "Nah, we don't want that s***, man! I put my wallet back in my pocket, and then the gunman said, "Give us all the church money". I then told him that we keep no money on the premises, that it all goes to the bank on a regular basis. He then put the gun barrel in my side, grabbed my arm, and led me around the building for probably 2 minutes, which felt like forever. He asked me what was behind a certain door, and I explained that it was our kid's area, and there was nothing back there except kid's toys and crackers. It was from that vantage point that they could see my office door open, so they led me into my office. In my office was my MacBookAir laptop and also my assistant's laptop. They closed the lids on both and the gunman tucked them under left arm. Again, with the barrel of the gun pressed into my side, he asked me to give them the church's money.
I looked him in the eye and said, "Look man, I'm standing here before God and you, and I'm telling you the truth, we keep no cash around here."
The second guy then said, "Let's get out of here", and they ran out the door. Our front doors are glass with a reflective anti-glare coating, so I couldn't see where they went, but as they left, the door stayed open to the outside, and I could see the make/model of their car. They drove away, and I called 911 - the Yakima Police were amazing - they were on site in less than 90 seconds after my 911 call.
We purposefully have our church situated in the "bad" part of town, as that is the people group we are trying to minister to. (Let's not get in debates about that, I'm just trying to paint a picture of our scenario). In the last month, 7 of the 8 building on our immediate block have been robbed and/or broken into, including a gun store which has had to close shop due to loss of inventory in their robbery.
As I've spoken to the detectives handling this case, they have encouraged me to have a CCW that I know how to use well. Yakima is also in the top 10 in the nation when it comes to crime.
Here's what I'm MOST thankful for...
1. It's just stuff. We have already replaced the computers - stuff is as easy to get as it is to take.
2. I was able to be calm in the moment and not escalate the situation by trying to physically stop a man who had a loaded gun. I kept telling myself that the second guy was armed but not showing yet, and that kept me from trying to overtake the original gunman.
3. My oldest son (10 years old) usually comes with me to work on Sundays, and this Sunday, he slept in.
About my son... When the man pushed me into the desk and put the gun in my face a second time, that was the moment where I honestly believed I was going to be shot or killed. I was able to keep my wits because I was the only one in the building. Had my son been with me, there are a thousand different scenarios I've played out in my mind, and all of them end badly.
So, there's my story. Learn from it what you will, and thanks for reading.
December 11th, 2013 10:54 AM
Well, Padre, 1) Welcome to the forum from Memphis. 2) Glad you are OK and have decided to take your personal safety seriously. 3) As you and the police mentioned, change your routine. 4) Keep your SA up and your head on a swivel. Apparently just because it is G-d's House that doesn't mean a whole lot to some people.
If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
-- Steven Wright
1950 Colt .38 Police Positive Special
2013 SCCY 9mm CPX-2 Stainless Steel
US Army 1973-1977, 95B
December 11th, 2013 10:54 AM
Very serious situation.....seems you were able to keep your composure and use your head. I ask you, now that you posted on this site...do you carry, would you carry, were you armed at the time ?
And have you forgivin' those insects......no disrespect meant to bugs.
December 11th, 2013 10:55 AM
'Sounds like the Lord took good care of you and your son, and you handled yourself well.
Naturally, I agree on getting your CCW and to start carrying all the time. You can't predict when bad things will happen.
As a Christian, I've thought and prayed my way through the application of lethal force, and am absolutely willing and prepared to do so in the defense of myself and my loved ones.
'Clinging to my guns and religion
December 11th, 2013 10:59 AM
I wonder, should you obtain a CCP, could you bring yourself to use potentially lethal force on another human being, in such a case? If not, I think Id stick with "turning the other cheek".
No offense, or disrespect intended. Btw, dont get me wrong on this; ALL of us have to decide when and if we would deploy a firearm. Those are not easy calls to make, oft times.
Some are pretty easy for most of us. Like if a bad guy was going to kill your family if you didnt take action to stop him, I think its safe to say that most of us would act. Or think we would.
Others are easy too, when you decide that you WOULD NOT shoot. Say some kid was stealing your hub caps. Or a person simply spoke harshly to you. Almost none here would probably think lethal force was justified in such cases.
The extreme cases are easy. Its all the rest of them that get harder.
I guess the point Im making, is that I dont think that under any circumstances that someone should get a pistol, "knowing" that they could not use it, but thinking that they could "bluff" their way out of a situation. Or to use it as a sort of talisman.
And I did not see you address these issues, and considering what you do for a living, it gives me concern for you and your situation.
I also note that your church is in a bad part of town. That your church could afford apple laptops, but apparently had no security cameras. Id certainly get on fixing that problem, ASAP, too.
December 11th, 2013 11:03 AM
Thanks for sharing. I'm sure you'll be assessing your daily routine and taking corrective action which, as you probably know, is more than just having a firearm available.
Thanks for serving your community by doing God's work.
"Everybody's got a plan, 'til they get hit".
December 11th, 2013 11:07 AM
Try to have one or more deacons/helpers/men arrive at the same time. There is strength in numbers. That early in the morning, even at a church, you must keep the doors locked. I know that's not a popular idea but it's the way it is now. Our church is locked even during the day when the pastor and/or secretary and others are there. If someone comes along who needs help, they can knock or ring the door bell.
If you were carrying, could you have shot them? Are you reconciled with God about that? You need to get that settled right away. I'm totally in favor with your carrying if that's what you decide and you're prepared.
I can only tell you I believe that at our church, there would probably have been two dead criminals.
...he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. Luke 22:36
USN/VET; NRA; GOA, jpfo.org
Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project www.irenasendler.com
December 11th, 2013 11:09 AM
Sadly there's probably many lessons to be learned with that encounter and carrying concealed is probably pretty low on the list... By the time your handgun would have potentially done you any good at all, it is pretty late in the game. You could have been killed multiple times over.
The most important lesson there is don't take any aspect of personal safety for granted. Don't maintain a rigid routine. Always lock doors behind you when you are alone. Finally, never assume that bad things aren't going to happen to you, because they can and will. Carrying a firearm for personal protection (obviously) is a vital part of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe, but safety doesn't start there and it doesn't end there either.
Glad you made it through such a terrible encounter. If you learn from it and stop the potential for it happening again, then you can chalk it up to a lesson learned.
NRA Life Member
"I don't believe gun owners have rights." - Sarah Brady
December 11th, 2013 11:10 AM
Wow. A really scary story. I respect you for caring about the people who must reside in that area and ministering to them. You are a brave man. I hope the police have increased patrols. I would guess from your joining our forum that you are considering getting your concealed permit. You must ask yourself if you are prepared to take a life to protect your own life or the lives of others. If there is any hesitation in those actions it could make a sit. worse. You could be disarmed and then again at the mercy of the bad guys. If you choose to pursue this option get some training. The police officers might recommend someone who is an competent instructor. You could likely begin to train before you get your permit and start carrying. I wish you the best. Visit this forum often and glean the knowledge from others. Glad to have you here.
I shoot with a pistol and a Canon. We must all hang together amigos, or we will all hang separately. NRA life member.
December 11th, 2013 11:11 AM
Glad you're okay.
The bullet in the chamber looked really big!
You're right, it's just stuff.
I agree with the detectives of the YPD.
I'm glad your son wasn't there.
Your story reinforces my faith, my carry habits, and my understanding that my firearm is not my primary weapon.
The latter, in my opinion, suggests that "...the moment where I honestly believed I was going to be shot or killed..." would have changed my level of engagement, were I in a similar situation.
It could be worse!
December 11th, 2013 11:14 AM
December 11th, 2013 11:17 AM
Robbery in God's house? Sadly not a surprise. I thank God no one was hurt and commend you on your resolution to take responsibility.
December 11th, 2013 11:22 AM
Nail, head. A gun is just the last line of defense. Glad it worked out and welcome aboard.
Originally Posted by TX expat
I have a very strict gun control policy: if there's a gun around, I want to be in control of it.
December 11th, 2013 11:22 AM
Thanks for all of the responses, and let me chip away a little at a time at some of them.
1. I'm absolutely prepared to take a life if that life is threatening my family or the people in my church. No reservations there.
2. I wasn't carrying, but am in the process of becoming legal with a CCW.
3. I have changed my routine.
4. There are now three men that show up around 5:30 AM. All three have law enforcement backgrounds and are legal with a CCW.
5. Security cameras would have done nothing to stop this - only help after the fact.
6. A handgun in THIS PARTICULAR instance would have done little good - I am completely aware of that. To my uneducated understanding, when a loaded gun is pointed at you, attempting to or successfully drawing yours gives the other guy a great reason to escalate and shoot you. HOWEVER... If you know different, please tell me - that's why I'm here - to learn.
7. My decision to pursue carrying is because of newfound awareness through the detectives of what has been going on in the area where I work. I will begin carrying all the time because I now have a much better understanding of where I and my family spend a good chunk of our time and the dangers associated with it.
8. I now have a good 9mm that I'm practicing with, am signed up for two different handgun courses, and have applied for my CCL.
December 11th, 2013 11:31 AM
That one is tricky and will come up for debate here from time to time. A training term for this is DATD or Drawing Against The Drop. The problem with a loaded gun pointed at you, is that it leaves you at the mercy of the person holding it. Chances are, they have none. You're correct that if they become aware that you are in the process of drawing your own gun, they will likely shoot you at that point. However, there is training that will instruct you on how to both mentally distract them, while physically blocking their firearm and shooting them with your own (or even theirs). This is not easy, and requires serious training from a highly qualified instructor.
Originally Posted by JSMidd
'Clinging to my guns and religion
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