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Coach Chases Down School Shooter

On February 27, 2012, 17-year-old T. J. Lane from Chardon, Ohio, burst into his school's cafeteria and started gunning down classmates. Lane shot and killed three students, but if it wasn't for the courage of Coach Frank Hall, many more students could have died that day.

The funny thing is that Hall doesn't consider himself to be a courageous hero. The 6'1", 350-pound football coach admits that he has plenty of fears. He hates confrontations; he's afraid of heights, roller coasters, and scary movies; and he jumps through the ceiling when his kids sneak up on him. On one level, Coach Hall is more of a teddy bear than a fighter. Hall summarizes his coaching code in two sentences: "Every kid is someone's pride and joy, or wants to be someone's pride and joy …. I keep thinking, How would I want my kid to be treated?—and then I treat them that way."

But Frank Hall believes that there's one word that defines his life calling—protector. So as the shots rang out on that February morning in the Chardon High School cafeteria Frank Hall knew what he had to do. Hall, a follower of Christ who felt the hand of God through the ordeal, responded with courage in the face of danger. As students cringed under desks, Hall charged at the gunman, his voice booming, "Stop! Stop!" T.J. Lane, the 17-year-old shooter, was thrown off-guard by Hall's charge. Lane shot and missed as Hall dove behind a soda machine.

When Jen Sprinzl, a 51-year-old secretary, rushed out of the office to follow the bangs, Lane pointed his gun in her face. Hall had four adopted sons at home—two African-American, two bi-racial—that he didn't want to leave fatherless, but once again he rose up and bellowed, "NO!" Then he charged at Lane, who wheeled and started running. Police finally found Lane on a wooded road, shivering and wearing a t-shirt with the word KILLER on it. When they asked him why he'd run away, he said, "Because Coach Hall was chasing me."

In a later interview, Hall said, "I know, it sounds crazy, but in all honesty, I really didn't think about anything … I just reacted …. As a society, we cannot lose our outrage when these kinds of tragedies happen. We can't just get to the point where we accept these kinds of things as just part of our lives, now. We have to make sure we, as a people, don't accept it … we can't!"

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Protection—either God's protection of us or our call to be a protector of others; (2) God's Wrath; Wrath—It's an imperfect picture of God's wrath, but it does capture the way God charges into evil and sin with appropriate passion and even anger; (3) Spiritual warfare—Being willing to engage in the spiritual warfare that is raging around us.

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