Five People, Including Gunman at One Location, Reported Dead in Two Weekend Shootings
Dec. 10, 2007 —
The gunman who killed two teenage sisters Sunday inside a Colorado Springs church has been identified as Matthew Murray, ABC News has confirmed.
Authorities have not said whether Murray, a 24-year-old from Englewood, Colo., who was killed by a security guard at the New Life Church after he fatally shot two teenage sisters, was also responsible for the shooting rampage at a youth missionary in the Denver suburb of Arvada, about 70 miles from Colorado Springs.
Earlier today, Colorado Springs police announced that Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, were killed Sunday morning after services at New Life Church. Their father, David Works, 51, suffered two gunshot wounds to the stomach and groin and is listed in fair condition.
Judy Purcell, 40, was shot in the right shoulder, and Larry Bourbannais, 59, was shot in the left forearm. Both were treated and released from an area hospital.
Rev. Brady Boyd of the New Life Church said in a news conference this morning that the gunman was not a member of the church.
"It was just absolutely random. It was a tragedy. He simply showed up on our property yesterday with a gun intent to harm people and that's what he did," Boyd said.
Twelve hours earlier, two people were killed at Youth With a Mission missionary center in the Denver suburb of Arvada, which is about 70 miles from Colorado Springs.
New Life Church leaders beefed up security after hearing about the shootings in Arvada. Boyd called the plainclothes security guard a "hero."
"There could have been a great loss of life yesterday," Boyd said. "She probably saved over 100 lives. She rushed toward the attacker and took him down in the hallway."
Shootings Probably Linked, Say Police
Police searched a home in Englewood, Colo., early this morning, trying to determine whether the two separate shootings in Colorado churches this weekend are related.
Police said they believed the shootings were probably linked, though there is currently no evidence to prove that.
"Given the circumstances, I think it is a good possibility that the two are linked," Arvada Deputy Police Chief Gary Creagor told The Associated Press early today, "but we have to prove that they are."
At the Youth With a Mission center, terror struck just after midnight Sunday. The young missionary students were wrapping up a Christmas party when a man came to a side door, asking to stay the night.
After his request was denied, the young man opened fire with a handgun, killing 25-year-old Tiffany Johnson, from Duluth, Minn., who answered the door, said the Rev. Peter Warren, the director of Youth With a Mission.
"She was just a wonderful young lady," Warren said of Johnson. "She had big dimples. Everyone loved her."
Phil Crouse, a 22-year-old from Alaska, was also killed. Warren said Crouse was "quiet but pleasant" and a "really hard worker."
Dan Griebenow, 24, and Charles Blanch, 22, staff members at the center, were wounded.
"All of these guys are so tight, so close," Warren said. "It just makes it all the more painful."
Police arrived minutes later, but it was too late. The gunman, reportedly a white man in his 20s dressed in black, was already gone.
'Positive I Was Going to Be Next'
About 12 hours later and 70 miles away, services were letting out at the 10,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs, when Murray opened fire in the parking lot.
Witnesses said the gunman was dressed in black, wore combat boots and carried an automatic assault rifle.
Jesse Gingrich was in her car in the church parking lot Sunday morning when she saw the gunman open fire.
"The man pulled out a huge rifle and my first thought was, that can't be a real gun," Gingrich told "Good Morning America." "It was so surreal to me at the time."
Gingrich said the gunman was right next to her car and began shooting at a van in a spot diagonal to hers.
"I ducked down in my car. & I couldn't find my car keys," Gingrich said. "I was absolutely positive I was going to be next."
New Life is one of the largest churches in the country and no stranger to controversy. The church's founder, Ted Haggard, was fired last year after a male prostitute accused him of paying for sex and crystal meth.
Haggard and the New Life Church had links to Youth With a Mission. The two groups worked together on a controversial missionary program that focused on converting people in Muslim countries to Christianity.
About 7,000 people were on the church campus at the time of the shooting, said Boyd.
"What happened today was a real tragedy and as a pastor, my heart is broken today for people that lost their lives," Boyd said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.