VIDEO | The Crucial Role of Directing Third-Party Individuals During a Shooting Incident

I recently watched the video from the tragic shooting inside a Lakewood, Texas mega church. The shooter, who brought her 7-year-old son along with her, used a legally purchased AR-15 to shoot at people inside the building. Church security team members engaged the shooter, and she died on the scene from gunshot injuries. During the incident, the shooter's son suffered a gunshot injury to his head, and after two weeks is still in critical condition. An older man was also stuck in the hip by gunfire, but was treated and released from the hospital.

taking charge

Kirk Sides/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

Lakewood Texas Church Shooting-

The Houston Police Department released body-worn and surveillance video from the incident, which spans about 26 minutes in total. As is customary with these incidents, it's vital that police, medical personnel, church security team members, concealed carriers and even those who don't carry a firearm, learn as much as we can so that we can be better prepared and improve our responses during critical incidents.


Video Breakdown:

As I watched the video, several things stood out, as I am sure things stood out for you. There is enough material to analyze that we could discuss each one at length. However, I wanted to focus on just one thing I noticed in the video.

At 8:53 in the video, switches to show the view from “Security Camera 3” inside the church lobby. From this view, we recognize shots fired at the 9:09 mark. About 40 seconds later, at the 9:56 mark, we see an armed security team member enter the area near where the shooter and her son paced about.

The security team member is closing in on the shooter, who is still armed, and shooting her AR15 rifle. At the 10:10 mark, we see an unarmed man exit the main room into the lobby. He sees the security team member and quickly walks up behind him.

This is the point I think we need to learn from.

Taken from Houston PD Video.

The Troubling Third-Party Individual:

The unarmed man talks to the security team member, which causes him to turn around and take his eyes away from the area where the suspect is. If you have to talk to someone behind you, don't turn around to do it. Okay, but it gets worse.

The security team member makes a tactical error by retreating into the bathroom, losing all sight of the suspect. And in tow is the unarmed man who can offer nothing to the fight. The security team member begins to close on the threat again, with the unarmed man alongside. At around the 11:10 mark, the unarmed man gets in front of the security team member and places himself right in the middle of things.

The unarmed man placed himself in extreme danger. What if he got shot? Now the problem gets more complicated because they may need to extract him under fire, or in the least divert resources for medical intervention. He also obscures the security guard from being able to see and take shots as he prances around. He doesn't stand back even when officers arrive on scene.

Finally, at the 11:48 mark, the unarmed man gets on the phone, which was the best thing he could do besides stay out of the way.

The unarmed third-party individual puts himself between the shooter and the armed security team member. Not good.

Why We Should Take Charge:

During a shooting incident, third-party people refer to individuals who are not directly involved in the situation but are present in the vicinity. They could be bystanders, customers, students, or employees. Taking charge of these individuals becomes essential for several reasons.

  1. Ensuring Safety: One objective during a shooting incident is to ensure the safety of everyone present. Third-party people may be in danger if they are unaware of the situation or if they panic. Taking charge might include guiding them to safety, keeping them informed, or directing someone to do that while you address the threat.
  2. Preventing Panic: In the absence of leadership or direction, panic ensues. Panicked people can escalate the situation and lead to more injuries or casualties. Taking charge of third-party people means calming them down, giving them clear instructions, and preventing unnecessary movement that could put them, or you, in harm's way.
  3. Assisting Authorities: Law enforcement and emergency services rely on the cooperation of everyone present to manage the situation effectively. Taking charge of third-party people involves cooperating with authorities, providing information, and following their instructions.
  4. Minimizing Casualties: Quick and decisive action can help minimize casualties during a shooting incident. Taking charge of third-party people means leading them to safety zones, barricading doors, or providing first aid if necessary.

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Tips For Taking Charge:

To take charge of third-party people effectively during a shooting incident, individuals should consider the following steps:

  • Stay Calm: Panic is contagious. Remaining calm can help keep others calm and focused.
  • Communicate Clearly: Use simple and direct language to give instructions and convey information.
  • Lead by Example: Demonstrate confidence and control to inspire trust and cooperation.
  • Be Aware of Surroundings: Stay vigilant and be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Follow Authorities' Instructions: Cooperate with law enforcement and emergency services to ensure a coordinated response.

In conclusion, taking charge of third-party people during a shooting incident is a responsibility that we should not underestimate. It requires courage, leadership, and compassion. By understanding the importance of this role and being prepared to act decisively, individuals can help prevent further tragedy and contribute to a safer environment for all.

Check out this post to see if you have the proper mindset for carrying a handgun for self-defense.

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.


  1. Clark Kent on March 5, 2024 at 10:49 pm

    How in the world can you tell the difference between a ‘security team member’ and a suspect if said ‘security’ is not wearing any identifying information? And why should ANYONE follow orders of someone they know nothing about? For all you know, ‘security’ is some dolt who decided he did not want to make coffee in the kitchen and chose ‘security’ instead.

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