Paintball gun confusion brings SWAT team to church

| March 19, 2012

Members of a local youth group left their church Sunday night with hands in the air as SWAT team personnel waited with guns drawn.

Officials responded to a perceived hostage situation at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church around 6:15 p.m. after a call indicated that an individual walked into the church with what appeared to be an assault rifle.

Officials soon discovered the suspect was a member of the church’s youth group who had brought his paintball equipment to show friends during the church’s youth night. The owner of the paintball gun said he hoped to encourage other youth to play the sport as a fellowship event.

Five junior high school and high school students were gathered at the church during the incident, said youth coordinator Amy Bela. As the night was ending, one youth looked out the front windows to see a mass of arm-bearing SWAT team members waiting outside the church. About 24 personnel were present from Midland Police Department’s tactical unit, according to spokeswoman Tasa Watts, accompanied by about 20 patrol officers.

Those in the church were instructed to walk out with their hands in the air. Nobody was taken into custody.

Read more: Paintball gun confusion brings SWAT team to church – Top Stories

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Category: Church Security

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