Charlotte Chaplains Draw From Law Enforcement Career to Comfort Officers

By   •   May 1, 2024

A crisis-trained chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) offers prayer outside the Charlotte, N.C., police headquarters after a fatal shooting left four officers dead and four injured on April 29.

When retired law enforcement officer Charles Gunter heard that four officers were killed and four more injured during a shootout in Charlotte, North Carolina, his heart sank.

He patrolled the same district for 29 years and knew some of them personally. All four officers who lost their lives—one with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) and three on a U.S. Marshals Task Force—were husbands and fathers.

Now as a crisis-trained chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT), Charles is ministering to his own community in the wake of this tragedy.

At the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s (CMPD’s) invitation, Charles and 16 other BG-RRT chaplains—all former law enforcement officers—are offering emotional and spiritual care to the department’s 1,800 employees.

A woman lays flowers at a fallen officer statue across the street from police headquarters.

Early the next morning, Charles met his former law enforcement partner, Beth*, at the BG-RRT’s Mobile Ministry Center, a quiet place for prayer and conversation.

She was one of many officers who responded to the terrifying scene where U.S. Marshals attempted to serve a warrant. Instead they faced an hours-long standoff after coming under fire.

Seventeen years ago, Charles and Beth were the first ones on the scene of a similar tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of two officers.

This shooting reignited that memory for both of them, and Charles comforted his friend with the hope found only in Jesus Christ.

“All this confusion and pain that we go through … we’re going to get through it,” he told her. “God is always there for us. He’s not going to forsake us.”

As chaplains continue ministering in Charlotte—headquarters for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and its BG-RRT outreach—Charles hopes to share with others how God has brought him through similar tragic experiences.

“If you don’t have God, the world is just too sad. I can’t imagine not having a relationship with Jesus Christ and the hope of salvation. If you don’t have that, what is there?

“Having Jesus in your heart and that everlasting trust that He’s there—you can get through anything, you can face anything,” he said.

Please pray for the families of the officers killed and injured—and for the entire Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department as they protect and serve the community.

A group from the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office, led by District Attorney Spencer B. Merriweather III, walked around the corner to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department main headquarters to lay flowers in memory of four fallen officers.