Fla. pastor fatally shot, two others killed
    December 8 2014 by Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Witness/Baptist Press

    Police are investigating the tragic deaths of a Florida Baptist pastor, a staff member and another individual following a possible triple homicide that occurred Dec. 4, the Florida Baptist Witness reported.
    On Thursday afternoon, police responded to a shooting at Bayshore Baptist Church in Bradenton, Fla. When officers arrived on the scene they discovered Pastor Tripp Battle, 31, had been fatally shot. While investigating the shooting at the church, deputies learned of other victims at a residence in Bradenton. They found Amber Avalos and Denise Potter, both deceased.
    As of Friday afternoon (Dec. 5), deputies in Manatee County were searching for Avalos’ husband Andres “Andy” Avalos, 33, for questioning regarding what appears to be a triple homicide, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
    Shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday, Andres Avalos was taken into custody from a nearby mobile home park and was charged with murder.
    According to The Tampa Tribune, Avalos’ six children, ages 3 to 14, remain in protective custody.
    Amber Avalos was the nursery and children’s director at Bayshore Baptist. Potter has been identified in media reports as a friend of Avalos.
    E.W. “Karp” Carpenter, a member of the church since the 1950s, told the Bradenton Herald that the children’s director “was a quiet person who did a great job with our children.”
    Officials from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office say the two crime scenes “are obviously connected” and that there were three people at Bayshore Baptist at the time of the shooting, including the shooter.
    Battle, who was pastor of the church for more than a year and a half, is survived by his wife Joy and their two children.
    Carpenter said Battle “was a great pastor” and that the church’s congregation grew from 30 to more than 100 under his leadership.
    Battle is the son-in-law of Keith Johnson, pastor of Wayside Baptist Church in Miami.
    More than 420 people have died in incidents involving deadly force at churches and other faith-based organizations in America since 1999, church security expert Carl Chinn reported in a 2013 issue of SBC LIFE, the journal of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. The article recommended ways churches can protect themselves against violent intruders. Among them:

    • Form a security ministry team to assess security needs throughout the week and during Sunday activities.

    • Assess security risks like entry doors without a greeter to monitor them on Sunday or a receptionist to monitor them during the week, unsecure children’s areas and doors that remain unlocked at night where intruders can slip in and hide.

    • Formulate plans for evacuating and locking down buildings in the event of a violent intruder.

    • Consider hiring off-duty police officers or a security company to provide armed security during church events.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Keila Diaz writes for the Florida Baptist Witness. Baptist Press chief national correspondent David Roach contributed to this report.)

    12/8/2014 9:50:06 AM by Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Witness/Baptist Press | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Florida pastor, murder, Tripp Battle

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