Preparing Police Officers for Shootings in Places of Worship

I remember teaching at the police academy and as I was in the middle of telling a story to the class, one of the recruits spouted off, “You’re just making that up! There’s no way that really happened!” My response was simple: “Listen, if I was making it up, I would make up something you’d believe.”

What was the point of me mentioning this story? Well, if you’ve been in law enforcement for more than a day, you probably already figured out that anything can happen, at any time, at any place. Nothing is off limits. And that can include you responding to an active threat or active killer within a place of worship. Mass chaos ensues.

From 2006 – 2016, there were approximately 147 instances of gunfire on church grounds, resulting in 240 wounded and 84 deaths. (Lindner, 2023) The number of incidents occurring inside a place of worship continues to increase. If your jurisdiction includes any type of a place of worship, you need to include these types of locations in your training. Thankfully, VirTra has done the hard work for you!

There are 4 new active threat/active killer scenarios that all take place within a place of worship. The scenarios will be installed on your VirTra system during your next service update (if you have an active service plan).

“Mass Chaos” starts off with a growing number of 911 calls reporting an active shooter in a church. The calls continue, until they come to an incredibly loud crescendo, leading to the emergency dispatch to officers.

The scenario opens to the exterior of a church with law enforcement moving to stop the threat, and parishioners attempting to flee the scene. Within this multi-incident scenario, officers will have to make split-second decisions on who may or may not be a threat. They will also be tested on shot placement, accountability and maintaining their areas of responsibility. Single engagements, non-engagements and even hostage situations can all be used within the scenario.

The three other scenarios that are being released have all been made using “Mass Chaos” as a base. It has been subdivided into scenarios titled “Church Crisis,” “Holy Moly” and “Holy Hostage.”

These smaller scenarios utilize single engagements from the “Mass Chaos” incident, as well as additional assets using our V-Author® character library. We’ve also filmed an additional walk-up video for “Holy Hostage” to make it a more unique and unpredictable training event for the students to go through.

These scenarios combine an amazing blend of realistic radio traffic, panicked church goers and special effects that will raise the heartrate of even your most veteran officers. If you add VirTra’s V-Threat-Fire® device to the training, you’ll have added real-world consequences to the simulation.

VirTra is always looking to add new content to our training simulators. Look out for Mass Chaos, Church Crisis, Holy Hostage and Holy Moly during your next update!

Stay Safe!



Lindner, J. (2023, December 20). Church Shooting Statistics: Market Report & Data. Retrieved from Gitnux: htps://