As the community of Mandan grapples with the shock of four homicides, police chaplains are working behind the scenes to provide support.
The Rev. Bruce Prentice, a chaplain for the Mandan Police Department, said he was called Monday morning to assist after four bodies were discovered at RJR Maintenance and Management.
“It’s horror. It’s evil in a way that really impacts you more so than normal,” Prentice said. “There’s no way it doesn’t impact you. There’s things you can’t unsee.”
Prentice, the pastor for Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church, has volunteered as the chaplain for Mandan police and the Morton County Sheriff’s Office for about nine months.
“We’re available to let the officers talk. Nothing they say to me goes higher,” Prentice said. “It’s kind of a safe zone for them.”
Mandan Police Chief Jason Ziegler said the chaplaincy program is extremely important to the department.
“When you’re going through tough things, it’s always nice to have someone who just listens,” said Ziegler, speaking in general and not specific to the homicide investigation.
Police did not release any new details on Wednesday about the killings. The business owner and three employees were found dead Monday at the southeast Mandan business after emergency personnel responded to a 911 call for a medical assist at about 7:30 a.m.
On Tuesday, police identified the victims as business owner Robert Fakler and employees William and Lois Cobb and Adam Fuehrer. Police have not said how they died.
The Crisis Care Chaplaincy program provided a debriefing with Metro-Area Ambulance and the Mandan Fire Department on Monday, said staff chaplain Greg Carr.
Crisis Care Chaplaincy has six chaplains who are trained for critical incident and stress debriefings.
Carr, a former volunteer firefighter, said he likes to think of first responders as carrying backpacks, and every call they respond to adds a pebble to the load they carry.
“You never know which is going to be the pebble that pushes them over, and they can’t carry that backpack anymore,” Carr said. “So we do these debriefings so that we help them handle and manage that backpack.”
Prentice said he’s available to family members of Mandan and Morton County law enforcement as well.
“The encouraging thing is the police aren’t on their own on this,” Prentice said. “There’s people a little bit behind the scenes that are encouraging them and helping them. That’s a good thing.”