Members of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Midland, TX received a scare on Sunday when they found themselves evacuated by SWAT team members after one youth group member brought his paintball equipment to show friends.
Officials responded to a perceived hostage situation at around 6:15 p.m. after it was reported that an individual with what appeared to be an assault rifle had entered the church. Five junior high school and high school students were gathered at the church when the owner brought in his paintball equipment to encourage other youth to play the sport as a fellowship event.
About 24 SWAT personnel and 20 patrol officers instructored the church members to walk out with their hands in the air although no one was taken into custody. Church members, who were visibly shaken after the incident, described themselved as “overwhelmed” and “shocked”
“Those were real cops pointing real guns at my kids,” said youth coordinator Amy Bela, “Oh my word. Even when they were calling us out, I was like, ‘Is this real?'”