A sign posted outside the River at Tampa Bay Church warns that congregants are armed and will use deadly force if attacked.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the sign has been up for about a year but drew fresh attention when Senior Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne posted it on his Instagram account two days after the heinous attack on the church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The sign is intended to let would-be attackers know that congregants do not plan to be sitting ducks if someone comes in to do harm:
Associate Pastor Allen Hawes commented on the sign, saying, “It is a deterrent. Look at what is going on. In the past two months, look at what happened in Texas. Look at what happened in Las Vegas. Because we are a church that is on television, we are very involved in the community. We want people to know that this is a safe zone.”
River at Tampa Bay Church has 1,200 to 1,300 members, and Hawes stressed that many of them are armed and “prepared to use deadly force if necessary.” He said, “We are not a soft target. People here will defend their families.”