Deadly LDS Church shooting causes security concerns

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – A deadly shooting during an LDS Sacrament Meeting in Nevada Sunday has some members thinking about safety while attending Church services.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints employs security guards at Temple Square but at local ward houses like the one where the shooting took place in Fallon, there is no security in place.

Yellow crime tape surrounded the church Sunday afternoon after police say Fallon 3rd Ward member John Kelley O’Connor walked in and shot 61 year old Bert Miller to death in front of more than a hundred horrified witnesses. O’Connor later surrendered to police at his home a block away.

Most members News4Utah spoke to Monday say they feel safe in church.

Aaron Hales is an LDS Church member from Tempe, Arizona.

“I look at that incident as just kind of an outlayer, just something that potentially happens ,” Hales said. “I don’t know if there’s any general pattern of increased shootings at churches.”

It’s rare but occasionally does happen. In 2008 Kristy Ragsdale was murdered by her husband in a church parking lot in Lehi and two years later Bishop Clay Sannar of the Visalia, California 2nd Ward was shot to death inside his church.

Members are advised not to carry firearms on Church property. Section 21.2.4 of the Church’s Handbook 2 reads “Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. The carrying of lethal weapons, concealed or otherwise, within their walls is inappropriate except as required by officers of the law.”

Now some members say it may be time to review that policy.

“I think maybe we ought to talk about it,” Frankie Brown said. “Yes I think you need to be concerned. Yes.”

“I think worrying about whether or not your safe at church would detract from the Spirit of the meeting,” Michael White said. “So I would actually vote in favor of not.”

John O’Connor has been charged with murder. Another man was wounded in the leg during the shooting.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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