How to confront a gunman in your church lobby

Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

Pastor Randal H. Ackland glanced at his watch. Time was of the essence. He had less than 25 minutes before the church campus and daycare would begin teeming with parents dropping off their children. Less than 25 minutes to somehow disarm or bring about the peaceful departure of the disheveled and, at best, unstable gunman that was now sitting in the church foyer.

Ackland, 60, has been the pastor of South Attleboro (Massachusetts) Assembly of God for the past six years. The church, which runs about 450, has three main buildings, including the church facilities, Dayspring Christian Academy, and Liberty High School. Dayspring also offers daycare for preschool children.

Typically Ackland has Mondays off, but on Aug. 27, he needed to do a few quick things at the church. So, he and his wife, Connie, who works at Dayspring Christian Academy, drove to the church campus around 6:30 Monday morning.

After dropping Connie off, Ackland went to his office to gather a few things. Then, he headed for the adjoining sanctuary to retrieve a cable for his tablet that he had forgotten on Sunday.

“I entered the building and encountered this guy sitting in the foyer, holding a gun,” Ackland recalls. “He was shaking and sweating and pointing the gun at himself.”

At first Ackland thought the unkempt figure was a homeless person going through some kind of withdrawal. But something unusual happened after they surprised each other. After the initial shock of seeing him, the gunman “visibly relaxed.”

Stunned himself, Ackland simply asked the gunman, “Can I help you?” As the man was initially unresponsive, Ackland continued. “Can I call somebody for you and get you some help? It looks like you need some help — maybe a doctor, police, or counselor?”

The gunman affirmed that he needed some help, but was unwilling or unable to determine what kind of help he needed.

“I needed to buy some time to pray,” Ackland says, “so I told him that I was going to get the cable I had come in for, which was only about 30 feet away, and then we could continue talking.”

And pray Ackland did. God responded. “God told me that If the gunman didn’t want help, I could just ask him to leave.”

After collecting the cable, Ackland returned. He asked the gunman to put the gun away. He did, placing it into his pocket. He then asked him again what kind of help he would like — a doctor or counselor. The man couldn’t answer.

“Well, would you prefer to just leave?” Ackland asked, according to God’s prompting. “He told me, ‘That would probably be best.’”

As the man picked up two backpacks that Ackland hadn’t noticed before (which were later determined to contain an additional gun and numerous rounds of ammunition), Ackland asked the man how he got into the church. The man claimed he found a door not fully latched.

Ackland gave him his business card and told the man that he would like to talk to him sometime and to give him a call whenever he was ready. And then the man was gone, walking out of the church door and down the street.

Ackland glanced at his watch again. Three minutes, that’s all it was, but it may have been the longest three minutes of his life. Thankful for God’s protection, and a bit shaken, he called the police to report the incident. About 15 minutes later, two police officers in their cruisers located the suspect about a mile away . . . and that’s when God’s intervention and protection at the church campus became fully evident.

When the police gave instructions to the suspect — later identified as Eric Lindsey, 41, of Coventry, Rhode Island — he refused to listen and reportedly opened fire on the police officers. The officers dove out of their cruisers — just before bullets pierced the head rests of both vehicles — and returned fire.

Lindsey was struck multiple times, according to reports, with the officers disarming him. They then used their training to save his life. Currently Lindsey is under guard at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.

The potential for a far more tragic outcome isn’t lost on Ackland — so many parents, so many children just minutes away from possibly encountering a gunman who seemed to be battling inner demons.

Yet from this potential tragedy, God has been lifted up in ways Ackland couldn’t have imagined.

“Our business manager has been interviewed 10 times and I have given four interviews,” Ackland says, “and each time, we gave God credit for His hand of protection — and that made the news.”

Although that statement may not seem to be of much note for those in the Bible Belt, Ackland says that it’s almost unheard of for God to ever be mentioned in a positive light on news reports in New England. What’s more, the news coverage has opened doors for conversation.

“The people of our congregation have been having wonderful conversations with their neighbors, our church name and sign has been all over the news, and this has prompted opportunities for good conversations about God, which, here in New England, is huge. Even the police chief and district attorney thanked God for His hand in the outcome . . . God has been getting a lot of glory for how it all worked out.”

18 Comments

  • Reply September 18, 2018

    Varnel Watson

    This here is a good one William DeArteaga

    • Reply September 18, 2018

      William DeArteaga

      Superb. I need to post this as an addendum to my blog. Can you give me a link to the original article?

    • Reply September 18, 2018

      Varnel Watson

      The pastor is a little bitty feller and was lead directly by the Spirit to resolve the situation with the favor of God

  • Reply September 20, 2018

    Varnel Watson

    teaching a class on church self defense in a city near you

  • Reply September 20, 2018

    Alan Smith

    PastorDavid

  • Reply September 22, 2018

    Jared Cheshire

    One think strikes me as ironic in the picture for this article. Notice the No-guns sign on the bullet riddled glass?

  • Reply September 22, 2018

    Varnel Watson

    A standard sign on many doors that means nothing to the active shooter

    • Reply September 22, 2018

      Jared Cheshire

      My point exactly. All it does is intimidate the law abiding into being a sitting duck.

    • Reply September 22, 2018

      Jared Cheshire

      Also it isn’t standard. The #of businesses that use thst sign voluntarily is slim.

    • Reply September 22, 2018

      Varnel Watson

      It is standard for all government buildings

    • Reply September 22, 2018

      Jared Cheshire

      Federal yes. But not for many states. Infact it is illegal in some states to post no gun signs on state, county, or city offices and property. Texas for one. There are others. You see armed people testify in front of state legislatures all the time!

    • Reply September 22, 2018

      Varnel Watson

      Come again? No signs in state owned schools in TX? Dont think so!

    • Reply September 22, 2018

      Jared Cheshire

      We don’t have state owned schools in TX. We have Independent School districts. As of now you cannot carry in a school unless the school gives permission. Grade School level. There is a bill that will make it were a school cannot disallow staff and parents who are licensed to carry. Public colleges cannot prohibit license holders, but private colleges can because of property rights.

    • Reply September 22, 2018

      Jared Cheshire

      Also Texas is more restrictive than many other states in this matter.

    • Reply September 22, 2018

      Varnel Watson

      Texas 30.06 & 30.07 Signs
      On January 1, 2016, new Texas state laws went into effect allowing the open carry of firearms. The new laws allowed for the open carry of firearms by license individuals where concealed carry was previously allowed.

      Property owners and businesses can still prohibit the open carry of a firearm, as they were previously able to prohibit concealed firearms onto the property. To prohibit the open carry of a firearm, a sign would have to include the following:

      This specific text: “Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (Trespass by License Holder with an Openly Carried Handgun), a Person Licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (Handgun Licensing Law), May Not Enter This Property with a Handgun that is Carried Openly.”
      The same text duplicated in Spanish
      All text at least one inch in height, in block letters

      https://www.safetysign.com/help/h108/texas-3006-3007-signs

    • Reply September 23, 2018

      Jared Cheshire

      This is correct for private business.

    • Reply September 23, 2018

      Varnel Watson

      Understood Shows me NOT living in TX

    • Reply September 23, 2018

      Jared Cheshire

      Like I said above, Texas is more restrictive than most states on our Right that “shall not be infrienged.” we actually come in 37th in 2nd Amendment Liberty. Not really living up to our reputation.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.