In unsettling news for people of faith in Montana, witnesses told the Billings Police Department that a man with a long-gun entered the First Congregational Church in Billings. He made no threats, but being an unexpected guest with a rifle was threatening enough.
Police have not been able to locate the suspect, who witnesses say is either Hispanic or Native American in their mid-20s. He has a medium build and height and was wearing dark clothing. According to the church’s minister, the scene appeared to have led to a confrontation at the back of the church.
Lisa Harmon, the church’s minister, said, “It seemed to be something between individuals, it did not seem a threat to the church as a whole.”
Proving himself a friend of the faith community once again, President Donald J. Trump has signed an order in January establishing $375 million dollars in federal money to help churches protect themselves against mass shooters.
Trump announced in the East Room of the White House, “in the face of attacks on synagogues, mosques, and churches in our community — something that is just so horrible — we must work together to reject the monstrous evils of anti-Semitism and anti-religious bigotry.”
He continued, “I will sign legislation authorizing $375 million for federal grants to help houses of worship and other faith-based and non-profit organizations defend against violence,” Trump said to applause, adding, “It’s crazy; what’s going on is crazy.”
The law will increase funding for the Nonprofit Security Grants Program, allows houses of worship to apply for $100,000 grants for things like fencing, cameras, stronger doors and security professionals. The bill passed both chambers unanimously.