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Latter-day Saint leaders issue guidelines in case of shootings at church

FILE - In this July 23, 2018, file photo, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church where a longtime rural Nevada volunteer firefighter was fatally shot during a Sunday services is shown in Fallon, Nev., about 60 miles east of Reno. Church leaders recently stressed that guns should not be brought to church. On Oct. 10, the presiding bishopric issued new guidelines addressing what members should do in the event of a shooting or other emergency. (AP Photo/Scott Sonner, File)

A day after a shooter killed two worshippers outside a synagogue in Germany, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is issuing new guidelines intended at keeping its members safe.

The new guidelines are about putting resources into members’ hands, church spokesman Eric Hawkins says.

The Presiding Bishopric of the church sent a letter with the instructions to members and leaders, dated Oct. 10.

The letter says the change is due to “changing conditions around the world,” and does not specifically reference the shooting in Germany, which took place on one of Judaism’s holiest days.

A fatal shooting occurred at a church building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fallon, Nevada on July 22, 2018.

Preventing problems

The church’s new guidelines instruct members to be aware of their surroundings. Common safety practices that the church is recommending includes reporting suspicious behavior.

“First, if something seems out of the ordinary, doesn’t fit or doesn’t feel right, tell someone immediately,” a statement from the Church News reads.

Members are warned against being alone in the church’s buildings.

Leaders should consider canceling interviews with persons who pose “a potential security problem,” the guidelines say.

In case of emergency

In the instance of a shooting or other emergency at church buildings, members are instructed to “rely on local law enforcement.”

The instruction also applies to emergencies at church-sponsored events, the guidelines state.

If a shooter enters the building, the church recommends that members run or hide.

If members choose to run, the Presiding Bishopric says, they should do the following:

  • Move quickly and quietly to a safe location away from the building.
  • Don’t draw the assailant’s attention.
  • Don’t return for personal items.
  • Don’t carry any items that could be mistaken for a weapon by law enforcement.

If members are unable to escape, the guidelines state members should do the following:

  • Close, lock and barricade doors to rooms where hiding.
  • Stay away from windows and keep low to the floor.
  • Turn off lights.
  • Silence cell phones.
  • If exchange of gunfire occurs between law enforcement and assailant, stay in barricaded rooms until instructed by law enforcement.

As a last resort, members should “fight back against the assailant,” the guidelines state. The Presiding Bishopric says members should defend themselves.

Should an intruder make threats with a weapon, the letter tells members to “comply with the person’s demands.”

Complying with the orders of armed intruders includes complying with a demand for cash or other money donated to the church.

Hawkins says that the church hopes members use these instructions at any time in their lives when emergencies happen.

“What we do see is members using these tools in their everyday lives outside of the Church — at shopping malls, movie theaters, grocery stores and other places. Even outside the Church, we want people to be safe. We want them to have these tools for any circumstance,” Hawkins says.

The full letter can be read here.