The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) is ministering in Antioch, Tennessee, after a gunman killed four people at a Waffle House on Sunday, April 22. News reports say the shooter began firing at customers in the restaurant’s parking lot before walking in and unloading his assault-type rifle. Several more were injured before a customer grabbed the gun and the shooter fled.
His escape led to a vigorous manhunt, with local schools on lockdown and citizens on edge. Authorities apprehended the suspect on Monday afternoon.
“Things were very tense,” said chaplain Al New, referring to the earlier search for the shooter.
The RRT was invited by local authorities to provide emotional and spiritual support in Antioch, less than 15 miles southeast of Nashville.
During the manhunt, the RRT focused on minstering to the law enforcement agencies involved in the search.
“We hope the officers know we are here for them,” New said. The chaplain previously managed emergency personnel and was a first responder in Sullivan County, Tennessee.
Since the suspect was captured, chaplains have also been available to the grieving community of Antioch—listening, talking and praying with all those trying to process this tragedy.
“We are here to help them get through this,” he explained.
A group of eight crisis-trained chaplains have been serving in Antioch, marking the seventh deployment triggered by a shooting in 2018.
On April 19, chaplains deployed to Trenton, Florida, after two deputies were gunned down in a restaurant. The RRT is also serving in Greensboro, North Carolina, after a tornado raked through the city in mid-April. Earlier this year, the ministry responded to shootings at a Parkland, Florida, high school where a former student killed 17 people; and Westerville, Ohio, where two police officers were fatally shot.
Please pray for the families of those affected by the shooting.