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Bitter tragedy in Texas mass murders

By Rhodesia Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Nov 10, 2017 - 10:32:55 AM

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Mass Shooting at The First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, Nov. 5.

What is being called the largest mass shooting in Texas history happened in a house of worship. Devin Patrick Kelley, a 26-year-old White male, reportedly walked across the street during Sunday services and began firing an assault rifle outside of First Baptist Church around 11:30 a.m. He continued inside the church, killing 26 people, including the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter and injuring many more, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 30 miles east of San Antonio.

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A group gathered in prayer outside the Community Center, after a mass shooting occurred at the First Baptist Church, Nov. 5. Photos: MGN Online
The pastor, Frank Pomeray and his wife Sherri Pomeray were out of town at the time of the shooting.

Authorities are still investigating, but said that as Mr. Kelley was leaving the church, he was confronted by an armed resident that led him on a brief pursuit. Law enforcement later found the suspect dead of a gunshot wound inside his vehicle. Whether the wound was self-inflicted or a result of his pursuer’s gun had yet to be determined by Final Call press time.

This is coming on the heels of another mass shooting that took place in October in Las Vegas where authorities say a lone gunman opened fire from his hotel window on the 32nd floor during an outdoor concert. He allegedly killed 58 people and injured hundreds more.

Unfortunately, America is no stranger to these types of occurrences. Mass shootings have transpired in countless places where there were unsuspecting souls, concert venues, baseball fields, night clubs, college campuses, elementary schools, movie theaters, malls, and gyms. However, over the past few years, violence in places of worship has soared leaving people asking the question … are we safe anywhere?

“The reality is people are out here looking for soft targets,” said Steven Muhammad, partner in a security consulting company. “Churches, synagogues, and mosques are most vulnerable to such violence because the mission of a church is acceptance. The mission of a church is welcoming. So, you’re more likely to become a target, unfortunately, in a house of worship than you would at the mall because your guards are down.”

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The same thing happened in Charleston, S.C., he said, where White supremacist Dylann Roof walked in the Emanuel AME Church while Bible study was happening and opened fire killing nine Blacks on June 17, 2015.

More and more, houses of worship are implementing some type of security tactics. Pastor Remus Wright of Fountain of Praise Church in Houston, Texas, reached out to the Nation of Islam for help in training some of his staff. With a church that has over 8,000 people, he wanted to be proactive in providing a safer and more secure environment for his congregants.

About 35 of his members participated in a six-week course that consisted of observation enhancement, drills, personal protection, crowd control techniques, weapon disarming, proper handling of people, rostrum and sanctuary security.

“Time dictates the agenda,” said Dr. Haleem Abdul Muhammad, student minister over the Nation of Islam Southwest region, headquartered in Houston, Texas. “And God himself taught us this procedure because security is prevention. God and his Messenger, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, taught us to secure our meetings.”

“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives and the families who lost loved ones today. We must address the root cause of this gun violence with courage and conviction,” he added, sounding stunned by the tragic event.

Black churches specifically and other houses of worship have been targeted for years by White supremacists. Church bombings are a part of Black history in America. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother, Alberta Williams King, was shot and killed as she sat at her organ at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1974.

On Sept. 24, a gunman carrying two weapons opened fire as Sunday services were ending at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, killing one person and injuring 17 others. The suspect is being held in a county jail without bond.

A Canadian mosque, The Islamic Center of Quebec City, was invaded by an anti-immigrant assailant Jan. 29. He killed six people and injured 17. He was charged with six counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder.

A White supremacist was sentenced to death after killing three people from two separate Jewish communities, Overland Park Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom Retirement Center on April 13, 2014.

On August 5, 2012, an Army veteran killed six people and then himself at a Sikh temple outside of Milwaukee.

The recent Texas tragedy has raised questions about how people feel about who are committing these crimes and what needs to happen to prevent future mass shootings.

It’s no secret that many of the perpetrators in these mass shootings have been White men. Some are even noticing the responses from President Trump regarding these incidents are very different from his response to the New York incident that left eight people dead and nearly a dozen injured when a 29-year-old alleged ISIS supporter careened his pickup truck down a bicycle path. Eight people were killed and others were wounded before the alleged driver was shot and captured by police officers.

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Candle light vigil for the victims of the Texas Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Nov. 5. Photos: MGN Online
President Trump said Nov. 6, the day after the Sunday mass shooting, this “isn’t a gun situation” but instead a mental health problem at the highest level. Some were discouraged by his dismissal of guns as being part of the root of the problem and saying it’s too soon to consider gun control policies.

That was the case with the Vegas shooting as well. President Trump seemed to be open to talking about gun control in a press meeting, but his administration declined to discuss the issue in the aftermath of the shooting.

Philip Bump of the Washington Post stated that Mr. Trump is quick to jump to conclusions when there are incidents involving immigrants, but is far more cautious when non-immigrants are involved.

In less than two months, the U.S. has been hit by three terrorist attacks. The Vegas concert, the New York City attack, and now the Texas mass shooting. The president’s response to the tragedy in Texas echoed his reaction to the shooting in Las Vegas, where he offered his condolences to the victims and stressed the importance of national unity. In the New York City attack, he immediately began calling for immigration policy changes after the suspect was identified.

When asked again what are his views on gun laws after these mass shootings and he responded by inferring that more people could have died if it were not for the weapon of a man who allegedly shot back at the gunman.

Many took to Twitter appalled by the president’s apparent lack of concern about gun control.

“26 killed aged 18 months to 77 years. 20 injured, 10 critically.#Trump; this is not a gun issue?” One Twitter follower asked.

“Trump now says we have a mental health problem! Then why did he make it easier for them to buy guns?” asked another tweet.

“The people must determine to change the environment in order to prevent these incidences from recurring ever again,” said Dr. Haleem Muhammad.

“The American people must be vigilant in this hour. They must have discernment and they must have actual facts. They cannot be confused. They should not be manipulated. They must determine that they are pro-life, whether it be in the womb, whether it be after birth, that all life is precious and all should be done to protect that life and follow the examples of the Nation of Islam. God disarmed us. Allah in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad disarmed us. We have mass gatherings, up to nearly two million men in 1995, without any acts or incidences of violence. The solution is in your midst if you have but the courage to look and see.”

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