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2023 Lake Houston Methodist Church Shooting

Lesson Learned from a Church Shooting

Person Holding Gun

This article is based on "Active Shooter Response," a Safety Member Certification training module.[1]

From the Bible

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word (Acts 4:29).


In this incident, a threat was taken seriously. Security help was summoned and responded. However, the outcome has raised questions which have not yet been publically answered.

The Incident

This began as a "suspicious person" case. Early on Sunday morning, November 12, 2023, a man walked up to a member of the Lake Houston Methodist Church on the edge of Huffman, Texas. He told the member about a situation at the church in which his mother had previously been somehow involved. Then he referred to the pastor and said, "This is the day," which was interpreted as a threat. About 9:15, someone called the sheriff's office about a "suspicious person."

Another church member was summoned for security. He was armed with a "long gun." News articles and the sheriff's press conference did not specify if this was a rifle, a shotgun, or a long-barreled handgun.

The man who made the threat had left. He came back and drove around the church repeatedly. Then he parked in the back area, got out, and charged at the security person from about 20 yards (60 feet) away with something in his hand. The security person fired two shots, hitting the charging threatener, who dropped to the ground. The object in the intruder's hand turned out to be a vape stick.

Persons Involved and the Aftermath

The man who threatened the pastor of Lake Houston Methodist Church was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been reportedly arrested the day before for criminal mischief, including use of a sword, and had been released early Sunday morning. If there were other charges, they were not listed in the news.

Psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs were found in his vehicle, which could explain his behavior that morning.

News stories did not state when his mother had allegedly been involved with the church, which was established in 1962. All we know of this person at this time is that he was a resident in the area.

The church member who responded is a member of Texas EquuSearch. This organization searches on horseback for lost and missing persons. He carries a weapon while on a search for protection against animals, and he had one that morning in case he was called.

When church members told him of the threat, he got his long gun and stood in the parking lot. That's where he was when the intruder came back and charged him.

When police arrived and found the dead man, they "detained" the shooter for questioning. In his press conference, the sheriff said that he was cooperating with the investigation.

EquuSearch's leader spoke favorably of the shooter and said his purpose that day was protecting the church.

As of now, there is no news concerning the investigation, but if the West Freeway church shooting is indicative, a grand jury can take nine months deciding whether or not to indict a shooter.

Some commenters on Internet news stories criticize the shooter because the intruder was holding a vape stick. This may sound like a valid observation until you look at photos of vape sticks. Some are long, thick and black, and the man was bull-charging from about 60 feet away. It would be only fair to consider the distance, the charging action, the size of the object, how it was held, and the uncertainty of identifying it. This is a dilemma often faced by law enforcement officers, and there are always those Monday-morning quarterbacks.

Lesson Learned: Clear the Scene

This is a kind of situation that many law enforcement officers have faced. Since we don't know the identity of the EquuSearch member, we don't know what kind of training he had. One valid lesson is to clear the scene when there is a possibly deadly situation.

According to news accounts, there were church members outside when the intruder returned and drove around the church. A satellite view of the church shows that the driveway and parking area encircles the building.

In this kind of incident, it is prudent to have everyone get inside when a person who made a threat returns. Execute a lockout, and wait for the police or deputies. Armed safety team members can be at doors or windows, but everyone else should be out-of-sight and behind cover. If the church has outside security cameras (highly recommended), people can watch on the monitor screens.

If a suspect who has left comes back, get in contact with law enforcement and keep them informed until their officers arrive.

If there is a shooting or another deadly weapon is used, you may need a lawyer. If you belong to U.S. LawShield (a Sheepdog Church Security affiliate), all you have to do is call and a lawyer will be there to represent you.[2]


Unless there is an attack on the church, it is wise to avoid confrontation by keeping everyone inside when a suspect who may be armed is outside. Use mass notification to warn members on the way to church to stay away.

Training Notes

All members of church safety teams need to be trained and certified. This can be done with the Sheepdog Church Security training program, Safety Member Certification. It has eight training modules (classes):

Invite church leaders to take "Safety Team Fundamentals" so they can understand what church safety is and what the safety ministry is doing. This will foster cooperation. Ushers and greeters should take "Storms and Disasters" and "Arson and Fire Safety," since they have roles in evacuations and sheltering. They should also take "Active Shooter Response" since they are the ones seeing who's coming in and what's in their view through the doors. It would be helpful for as many church members as possible to take "Mass Trauma Emergencies" and also train for First Aid, CPR and AED.

There are ten Church Security Guide articles on the primary SDCS website:

  1. How to Start a Church Safety Ministry in 5 Simple Steps
  2. Introduction to Church Safety and Security
  3. How to Conduct a Risk Assessment
  4. Church Safety Team Basics
  5. Fire Safety in the Church
  6. Preparing Your Church for Natural Disasters
  7. Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in the Church
  8. Self Defense Laws, Your Rights and Use of Force
  9. Disruptive Individuals: How to De-escalate the Situation
  10. Church Safety Teams and Active Shooter Training

Eight are also in Sheepdog Articles on the Safety Member Certification website:

  1. Introduction to Church Safety and Security
  2. Safety Team | Mastering the Basics
  3. How to Conduct a Risk Assessment
  4. How to Start a Church Safety Ministry in 5 Simple Steps!
  5. Mastering Verbal De-escalation for Peaceful Resolutions
  6. Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in the Church
  7. Natural Disasters and How to Prepare Your Church
  8. How to Handle Fire Safety in the Church

These are overviews of various church safety topics.[3]4][5]

Sheepdog Articles includes four categories:


Sheepdog Church Security Resources

  1. Kris Moloney, "Active Shooter Response," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [].
  2. U.S. LawShield, Sheepdog Church Security, affiliate link, [].
  3. Kris Moloney, Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2018 [/church-security-guide/].
  4. Kris P. Moloney, Rachel M. Moloney, Wesley G. Vaughn, Terry Berringer, et al., Sheepdog Articles, Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, 2023 [].
  5. Kris P. Moloney, Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Articles, Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, 2018/2023 [].

News Accounts

  1. Daniela Hurtado, "Man shot, killed after allegedly making threats outside Lake Houston Methodist Church, deputies say," KTRK-TV - ABC13 Houston, November 12, 2023 [].
  2. Annita Freeman, "1 dead, 1 arrested in connection to parking lot shooting at Lake Houston Methodist Church," Fox 26 Houston, November 12, 2023 [].
  3. Channel 3 Now Staff, "1 dead, 1 detained after shooting outside Lake Houston Methodist Church in Huffman," Channel 3 Now, November 12, 2023 [].
  4. Scott Engle, "Man shot, killed after allegedly making threats outside Lake Houston Methodist Church, deputies say," Montgomery County Police Reporter, November 12, 2023 [].
  5. Sammy Turner, "Man shot to death outside Huffman church after making vague threats, officials say," KHOU-11, November 12, 2023 [].
  6. Leonardo Blair, "Congregant fatally shoots man in church parking lot after he allegedly threatened pastor," The Christian Post, November 13, 2023 [].
  7. Jhair Romero, "Man shot, killed in NE Harris County church parking lot, sheriff says," Updated November 13, 2023 [].
  8. Mitchell Willetts (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), "Man making threats against pastor is shot and killed outside church, Texas cops say," Yahoo News, November 12, 2023 [].
  9. Keith Graves, "Shooting at Huffman, Texas Church Parking Lot Sunday Morning, One Killed," Christian Warrior Training, November 13, 2023 [].
  10. Will Tanner, "Texas Church Member Uses Firearm To Defend Pastor From Suspicious Man Threatening Him," The American Tribune, November 14, 2023 [].