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This WNY company specializes in active shooter training for houses of worship

Posted at 6:27 PM, Oct 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-29 18:27:33-04

In the days after 11 people were shot and killed at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Jewish institutions in Western New York are taking extra security precautions.

Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo has an alert on its website that reads, "We have been informed that the perpetrator of the shooting in Pittsburgh has been apprehended. We have taken extra steps with Amherst and Buffalo police to monitor our facilities. As always, we ask members & guests to report any suspicious activities or packages."

A vigil organized by the Buffalo Jewish Federation Sunday involved a dedicated security presence.

Other groups say not much has changed. According to Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County, it is continuing to implement the same security measures and is assessing the situation.

7 Eyewitness News spoke to Defensor Inc. about the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh and about the company's specific approach to security for houses of worship.

"Unfortunately it's becoming a day to day occurrence now where when we hear it, it's not quite the shock and awe that we're used to," Defensor owner David DiTullio said.

One approach he takes when training churches or religious venues is to create a "security ministry" of people who regularly attend services and can legally carry a firearm.

"Oftentimes we turn these people into a security ministry where their focus is greeting people, as they should in church, and to meet the needs of those who come in the doors," he explained.

DiTullio was at a local church conducting a training session when news broke of the Pittsburgh shooting Saturday.

"I think what we find is when seconds count, police are minutes away," he said.

Training through Defensor focuses first and foremost on being aware of your surroundings and watching for early signs of trouble or danger. Individuals also learn how to escape and, as a last resort, how to respond with deadly force in active shooter situations.

"You'll find that many people who carry [firearms] have taken the time to get the training just want to protect themselves and those around them and hope that they never have to use it," DiTullio said.

"Some of the responses [to the Pittsburgh shooting] were, you shouldn't have to be armed at church. You shouldn't have to be armed at your place of worship. What do you say to that? Is that just not the reality anymore?" 7 Eyewitness News reporter Josh Bazan asked DiTullio.

"It's not the reality and I don't think it ever was," he responded. "I think it would be like me saying we don't need seatbelts in our cars. No one wakes up expecting to be a victim."

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