Church security is focus of conference at scene of Fort Worth shootings

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on May 6, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Updated Monday, May 6 at 7:13 PM

FORT WORTH — Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth will forever be known for a night in 1999 when a gunman interrupted a prayer rally.

Seven people were killed and seven others wounded by a man shouting anti-church rhetoric who then took his own life.

So church officials are happy to host a large seminar this week on preventing violent attacks on worshipers.

"For me, I see a lot of value in this," said Wedgwood employee Jeff Laster, who was taking photos of the conference.

Laster was the first one shot in the 1999 incident. He sees value in about 500 peace officers and church workers sharing security plans and philosophies.

"As strong targets are hardened, softer targets become increasingly targeted... as simple as that," said security consultant Carl Chinn. He documented 75 deaths at faith-based institutions in 2012, a 36 percent increase.

Wedgwood isn't sponsoring this week's seminar, but no one misses the symbolism — especially not David Works.

A gunman wounded him and killed his daughters Rachel and Stephanie as they left New Life Church in Colorado Springs in 2007.

"That morning on the Internet he said, 'I'm coming to kill as many blankety-blank Christians as I can,'" Works recalled.

David Works said he couldn't have saved his daughters, but he does believe in stronger security. He also believes in moving forward.

One month after the New Life shootings, David Works met the gunman's parents, and something has happened that he never expected.

"We're actually good friends," he said. "Not just friends or acquaintances — good friends with the parents of the young man who killed our daughters."

Works' role at this conference is to share that story... and his faith.

"Life has to go on," he said. "You have to be there to help people to learn how to go on."

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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