It was a typical fall November Friday in the “City Beautiful” as it is called. In Orlando hundreds of thousands of citizens and tourists intermingled among the area’s attractions, highways, and businesses. Then, something changed; something happened. My OPD pager began to buzz: “Active Shooter…” Expecting this to not have a good outcome, I began to mobilize to offer support for our forces. At the Command Post I silently prayed for the safety of officers and citizens and wisdom for the front-line officers and command staff. I called for additional Chaplains to assist.
The end result was one dead, five wounded and a seventeen story office building full of shocked employees. To secure the “crime scene” all of the employees were evacuated. Family members needed a safe place to secure information about their loved ones and to reconnect with them. I called the Pastor of nearby College Park Baptist Church. Soon the church was opened and pastoral staff and deacons assisted with the influx of employees, family members and news media.
The church offered its facilities as a “safe location” for the business to gather its employees in the days to follow. Grief counselors, pastors, deacons and Police Chaplains gathered around them to walk with them through this journey. One employee asked, “Why has your church been so nice? Which of our employees goes to church here?” Before that day, the church had no relationship with the business or its employees. The answer given was simply, “Because it was the right thing to do.”