SMITHFIELD, Va. — When Bryan Parker attends his local church, he says he keeps close watch on what’s happening to stay safe.
“At one point in time, you didn’t have to worry about that.” Parker said.
He said he is concernced for his safety and his family’s because of violence at other churches and places of worship across the country.
“At one point in time, you didn’t have to worry about that,” Parker said. “Your eyes are always open, you’re always looking, you’re always on alert. It’s a shame it has to be like that.”
Scott Buchner with the Joint Terrorism Task Force based out of the FBI’s Norfolk Office said people “don’t think it could happen in their community.”
That’s why residents attended a special seminar between the JTTF, and the Isle of Wight Citizen’s Association, Carrollton Civic League, IoW NAACP Chapter, and Smithfield Town Council.
The seminar’s purpose was to inform residents on what they should look out for and how they can report suspicious findings to help prevent tragedies.
“Before every violent attack that we’ve seen in the United States, that the FBI has investigated or taken part of in the investigation,” Buchner explained, “one common feature is that somebody always knew something that led up to the attack.”
So what is terrorism? Buchner said the Intel community has different definitions. For the FBI, terrorism is using ideology to force or coerce someone into carrying out a violent attack.
“We have seen the 9/11 style attacks, we’ve seen other terrorism attacks,” Buchner said. “Now we’re seeing a rise of domestic terrorism attacks as well.”
The latest figures from the global terrorism database show about 9,500 terrorism incidents happening worldwide in 2018. In the United states, there were roughly 64 that same year. Right now, Hampton Roads residents can breath a little easier.
“We don’t have any specific information at this time of a current threat,” Buchner said. “It’s just one of those things that we always need to constantly be on the lookout for.”
There are only 12 FBI agents assigned with the local JTTF and work with local law enforcement.