Chief Brent Gibson of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office worked with your church staff to help us understand the appropriate response should such an emergency ever happen at Ascension on a Sunday morning. Chief Gibson advised us (as a congregation) to respond in the following manner, in the event of either fire or shooting:
Run. Each person’s first response should be to leave the church sanctuary (nave) immediately. Always run away from fire or shots. Assuming the triggering emergency arises in the main part of the nave, those in each transept should exit the building through the transept doors. Those people sitting in the first 5-7 pews in the main part of the nave should also exit through the transept doors. Those worshipers sitting in the rest of the main part of the sanctuary should exit according to the path most reasonable given the circumstances. If you are part of the altar party, leave through the sacristy (preferably behind where the cross stands). In any event, your key response should be to leave the nave as soon as possible.
Hide in Place. If you are unable to run during a shooting incident, due to your proximity to the emergency or due to physical inability, hide in place by dropping below the pew and scooting underneath to the extent possible.
Do not try to fight any attacker. As Chief Gibson told us, you will always lose the fight with your fists against a person wielding a gun.
Homeland Security Video on Best Practices in an Active Shooter Situation
Exit Strategy Chart