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Security group: Priest attacks are proof that churches should have armed guards

Phoenix Police leave the Roman Catholic church the Mother of Mercy Mission on Thursday, June 12, 2014, in Phoenix, gathering evidence and cleaning up after a Wednesday evening attack leaving a priest shot and killed and another injured. Police have no suspects at this point, but they are canvassing the neighborhood and going over physical evidence from the scene. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX -- Church crimes like the one that occurred in Phoenix Wednesday night have a national organization calling on leaders of places of worship to take up arms to protect themselves and their congregations.

In the Phoenix incident, two priests were attacked at a Roman Catholic church in the downtown area. Father Kenneth Walker was killed, while Father Joseph Terra was critically injured.

Chuck Chadwick is the founder and president of the National Organization for Church Security and Management (NOCSSM).

During a Saturday appearance on KTAR's Arizona's Morning News Weekend show, Chadwick told co-hosts Bob McClay and Becky Lynn that church crimes are happening all too often.

"There is no more sanctity of a church," Chadwick said.

He added that most of the crime at churches involves theft.

"It used to be that the only thing worth stealing in a church was the organ, which you couldn't get out, and the microphone," said Chadwick. "Now it's all sorts of high tech gear and projectors."

And then there's the money from the collection plate.

"We all know where the money is on Sunday night."

There's also a lot of domestic violence. Chadwick said that disagreements between married couples at home sometimes are manifested in a family fight at church.

Chadwick noted that police can't always get to a church in time to stop something bad from happening. He thinks the church needs to have someone who has a gun.

"You want to have at least one armed person in case something does happen," said Chadwick, who thinks that there's evidence in the Bible that churches should protect themselves.

He said that in Old Testament times, there were gatekeepers that watched over the temple.

That's the name of a part of the NOCSSM organization. Gatekeepers Security Services provides firearms training to church security teams.

"We go in and train at least one armed defender for every congregation," he said.

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About the Author


Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.

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