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Wednesday, April 25, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Texas Baptist leader's advice: Attack a gunman

The Associated Press

DALLAS — The head of a Southern Baptist seminary told male students they should charge an attacker if confronted with a situation like last week's Virginia Tech shootings.

Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, made the comments at a chapel service April 18, two days after Seung-Hui Cho fatally shot 32 people before killing himself.

"All you had to do was have six or eight [students] rush him right at that time and 32 people wouldn't have died," Patterson said. "You don't let things like that happen, guys. We just don't do it."

Patterson, who helped lead the 1979 conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Tuesday that he doesn't regret the remarks. He said he wasn't criticizing actions taken at Virginia Tech, though he said some people characterized his comments that way "for less-than-noble reasons."

"None of us were there, and when the bullets are flying, no one can predict the way anyone can respond, including myself," he said.

He said part of his role includes building character among his students, some of whom will become missionaries and suffer for their faith.

"When a man takes a bomb or when he takes a gun and he goes out and he just begins to kill innocent people, that only happens in most cases because he thinks he can somehow get by with it, he won't be stopped," Patterson said.

Patterson's remarks were saved on www.swbts.edu.

Patterson put a statement on the site Monday stating he sympathizes with families who suffered losses and the Virginia Tech president and security force, who he said are being maligned. Some observers have criticized the campus leadership for not responding to the gunman threat early enough.

"As the old military axiom notes, 'You plan for battle; but as soon the first shot is fired, the plan is pretty much over,' " he wrote. "Assigning blame to anyone in this situation is futile and hurtful."

He also said in the statement: "My own perspective is that Christians — who believe that heaven is their real home and that they are prepared for eternity as result of a life changed by Christ — are ... obligated to act courageously and sacrificially. And I am still just old-fashioned enough to believe that men are responsible to protect women and children."

Sgt. Allan Baron of Texas A&M University police told The Dallas Morning News, which first reported the remarks on its Web site Tuesday, that he would not recommend that someone without training charge an armed assailant.

"The best advice you could probably give to somebody in those type of situations is to look for a way to escape and get help immediately," he said.

Material from the Dallas Morning News is included in this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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