By Macy Jenkins

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s been nearly three months since 26 people died in a church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Now, religious leaders in Sacramento are coming together to learn how they can stop it from happening here.

“A lot of people may be afraid to go to church, and we don’t want that,” said Lt. Orrlando Mayes, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept. “We want them to be empowered.”

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department kicked off the first of six seminars designed to prepare preachers and pastors for active shooter situations.

Fifty-eight people died in Las Vegas after an October shooting. One month later, 26 people died in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And just three months after that, 17 people died in Parkland, Florida. Each time, the fear is reinforced.

“I just feel for the children, and I think that is an experience that they will have for a lifetime that, thankfully, most of us never had,” said Jane Ricci, the development director with Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Carmichael.

“You can survive an active shooter,” said Lt. Matt Reali. “They are cowards, they don’t know how to fight, the only thing they know is how to pull a trigger, and that’s all they trained to do.”

Reali explained how to look out for someone who’s about to act. Are they stockpiling weapons? Do they have a history of criminal behavior? Have they dropped hints about their plan?

“They don’t just snap,” Mayes said. “They do decide, and they do a lot of planning.”

Other pieces of advice include identifying vulnerable places on church grounds, observing who’s using community rooms, and creating an emergency action plan.

“I think it’s excellent,” Ricci said. “I’m going to go back and say you know more of the staff members need to attend this.”

Trainers also urged leaders to take advantage of crime mapping and online crime reporting tools. The free training sessions continue Friday, and they’re open to local church leaders who register ahead.

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