NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — The New Zealand mosque shootings claimed the lives of at least 49 people.
Dr. Khalid Qazi, the president of the Muslim Affairs Council in WNY, said he was devastated when he learned what happened.
"It's a very difficult concept to convey to people because people don't have this in mind, that they are going to a mosque or a church or a temple and there will be a massacre there," said Dr. Qazi.
But, Dr. Qazi knows times are changing. That's why mosques in Western New York have been upping their security.
Dr. Qazi told 2 on Your Side the Muslim community is now likely to do even more to protect parishioners.
He explained, "We can't escape the reality of life. We have seen too many massacres to ignore them."
That's where places like Defensor Inc. in Grand Island come into play.
When the safety training facility was founded in 2015, working with churches and other places of worship wasn't on their radar. Just four years later, it's a different story.
"That's one of our primary businesses is working with churches to give them the ability to harden their target, think a little differently, while still keeping the idea of you're not going through a checkpoint," said David DiTullio, the chief operations officer at Defensor Inc.
DiTullio says more than 15 religious organizations have gone through their training and the list is growing.
One of the primary lessons is being aware of your surroundings and suspicious behaviors
DiTullio says best case scenario -- you'll never need to use the skills learned through a training session.
Dr. Qazi agrees it's better to be prepared as a precaution, than unprepared in a disaster.