WASHINGTON - Funerals are a time to mourn, to pay your respects, to say goodbye – and increasingly, they’re becoming a place some fear for their safety as well.
When shots rang out Tuesday at the funeral of 10-year-old Arianna Davis in Prince George’s County, it wasn’t the first time the region had seen violence as someone was being laid to rest. In April, there was a deadly shooting at a D.C. funeral home, too.
"How low can you be to target other people at a funeral?," D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee III said at the time.
Evidently, plenty of people are concerned the same thing could happen to them.
"Normally, if individuals are doing funerals they may want escorts to help with traffic, but in this unusual situation they’re not requesting escorts – they actually want an armed guard presence to be standing guard while attendees come to the funeral to pay respects," explained Derrick Parks, the president and CEO of Metropolitan Protective Services, which provides private security for local governments, major businesses, and more.
Parks said that in 30 years, he’d never gotten a single request for armed guards at a funeral. That is, until the last two weeks – when he’s received four.
"By them retaining us for this purpose, it leads me to believe that they anticipate some level of violence," Parks added. "Now, churches and funerals are all on the table for would-be criminals to exact their revenge."
His message for people is to be vigilant, because Parks said, his business is currently getting about as many calls as ever before.
"We haven’t seen this spike in service like this since September 11," he said.