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'Our places of worship... seem to be under attack' | Virginia Beach church partners with Sheriff’s Office for active shooter training

Organizers say it’s about educating and empowering people, so they know how to protect themselves in a worst-case scenario.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Deputies from the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office hosted an active shooter training for churchgoers at Asbury Christian Fellowship Church Saturday.

Chief Deputy Rocky Holcomb noted, mass shootings can happen anywhere, at any time - even at church.

“In this day and age, our places of worship, our shopping centers, our schools seem to be under attack and we need to have situational awareness and be prepared how to how to defend ourselves out of how to protect ourselves,” he said. “There’s a time when you have to fight, there may be a time when you can hide.”

Holcomb’s team lead the congregation in a hands-on exercise showing them what to do in a worst-case scenario.

Chasta Mangum is retired from the Sheriff’s Office and attends the church. She said places of worship should be a safe space and refuge, but they can become a target. She said she wants the congregation to feel prepared to act if the unthinkable happens.

“This church is sitting out in the Pungo area, and we’re out here by ourselves. We’ve had several people come into the church that just kind walk in off the street. I think that the congregation needs somebody in here that knows something to be able to protect themselves,” she said. “Just know what to do to protect yourself.”

Holcomb said this training can save a life.

“We always need to be prepared for whatever situation comes up,” he said. “So I think the more we train, the more we communicate, the more we talk, the more we get citizens involved, the safer we all are.”

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the training is based on the FBI’s “Run, Hide, Fight” model and teaches people to “Avoid, Deny, Defend.”

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