'I feel scared being any place with lots of people'

By Joe Vargas

An angry man armed with an AR-15 rifle opened fire on members of the Faith Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people.

His victims ranged in age from 17 months old to 77, and 20 others were injured and hospitalized.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for their families, friends and the first responders who are processing the scene.

As of now, it appears he targeted the church because his in-laws were members.

They were out of town that Sunday.

Also Sunday in the City of Fresno, an angry man shot and killed his estranged wife, then shot her boyfriend before killing himself in the parking lot of the St. Alphonsus Church.

All of this occurring just a little over a month after the largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred in Las Vegas where 58 people were killed and 546 were injured.

The motive is still unclear.

In New York City last week, a reportedly self-radicalized terrorist drove a rented truck down a crowded sidewalk killing eight and injuring nearly a dozen people. Another angry man.

These tragedies occurred in places we should feel safe.

Churches are supposed to be a spiritual refuge from the evil that surrounds us, a place to gather to worship and connect with our creator. But evil men with uncontrolled anger don’t care about that.

Within hours, I received a phone call from a member of my church asking me if our security was adequate. We have a regular deployment of first responders in all our services.

His suggestion was to screen everyone entering, close access points and invest in wand detectors. He was honest and said, “I feel scared being any place with lots of people.”

I’m sure he’s not alone.

I don’t know how we return to our feeling of being safe and secure as we go about our lives. Time and distance help but just when we think we’re feeling safe again, another evil person goes and does something crazy.

As a retired cop, I’m probably more vigilant than most. I’m back to always scanning, watching, planning. It makes me feel safer.

I guess we all should keep our eyes and ears open and, if you’re like me, take the corner chair where you can see everyone. It might just make you feel a bit safer.

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com.