P1 First Person: Shouting 'Allahu Akbar' Christmas Eve?

I was ready to push my kids to the floor, jump over the pew, and run toward the threat with the intention of taking it out – or die trying

This PoliceOne First Person essay is from LaMaurice Gardner, PsyD, a SRT hostage negotiator and reserve lieutenant for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in Pontiac, Michigan. It was first published Dec. 22, 2011. Only the formatting has been updated. In PoliceOne "First Person" essays, our members candidly share their own unique view of the world. If you want to share your own perspective or experience with other P1 Members, simply send us an email with your story.

By Dr. LaMaurice Gardner

What would you do if in the middle of a Catholic Mass, on one of the holiest days of the year, someone yelled out “Allahu Akbar?”

It was late Christmas Eve and my 17-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son were preparing to leave for midnight Mass at Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church in Royal Oak, Michigan. The church is quite a distance from our home and the weather was bad. Worried about drunk drivers on the holiday eve, my wife was hesitant to let our newly licensed daughter drive so far so late. But our daughter was persistent and my wife gave in.

I had my own apprehensions. Having read books and attended terrorism lectures by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and John Giduck – as well as hearing from numerous Israeli and U.K. terrorist experts at IACP conferences – I was sensitive to the vulnerability of American houses of worship to terrorist attacks, especially on high-profile religious holidays. A good 10 minutes behind my kids, I decided to leave too and catch up with them for the service.

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