Gun incident highlights benefit of church’s security plan

| May 25, 2010

The leadership at Potter's House Ministries always hoped that the security guards who attend services at the Mt. Oliver church would never actually have to do their jobs.

"After some incidents at churches around the country about seven or eight years ago, we decided it would be a good idea to identify staff members here who were willing to serve as security officers and take some training classes," said Bishop Otis Carswell, founder of Potter's House Ministries. "I guess we're feeling that decision paid off."

Security guards wrestled a handgun away from the stepson of a deacon who walked in Sunday morning threatening to shoot his mother, police said. Witnesses told police that Robert Irvin, 23, of Mt. Washington, entered the nondenominational Christian church about 11:30 a.m. and pulled a black handgun out of his jacket — later determined to be a BB gun.

Irvin allegedly said "I'm going to shoot her" as he walked toward his mother, who was seated in the front row. There were 400 to 500 people in the church when the incident occurred, Carswell said.

Carswell said Irvin struck his stepfather on the left ear with the weapon as he approached his mother. The man, whom police did not identify, was cut but declined medical treatment. Irvin's mother and the security guards were not identified.

The guards were able to subdue Irvin before he fired the gun and restrain him until officers arrived, police said.

Carswell said Irvin has been dealing with family problems.

He is charged with simple and aggravated assault, making terroristic threats and carrying a facsimile of a firearm. He is in the Allegheny County Jail on a $100,000 straight bond.

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Category: Church Security

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