2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings

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2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings
Location Arvada and Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.
Date December 9, 2007 (2007-12-09)
c. 12:30 a.m.[1] – c. 1:00 p.m.[2]
Target Youth With a Mission center and New Life Church
Attack type
Spree shooting, murder–suicide

YWAM: Semiautomatic pistol[3]
New Life:

Deaths 5 (including the perpetrator)
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrator Matthew James Murray
Defender New Life: Jeanne Assam (Former police officer/church member providing security)[5][6]

The 2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings were a killing spree that occurred on December 9, 2007. In the early morning hours, 24-year-old Matthew J. Murray opened fire at the Youth With A Mission training center in Arvada, Colorado, with a pistol, killing two and wounding two others before escaping. Later that afternoon, he attacked the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with a number of firearms, killing two more people and injuring three before being shot and wounded by a member of the church's congregation who had been carrying a concealed firearm; he then committed suicide.[7]

Arvada missionary shooting[edit]

Around 12:30 a.m. MST (07:30 UTC), following a Christmas banquet that had taken place earlier that night, Matthew Murray knocked on the door of the Youth With a Mission center. Murray asked personnel in the facility if he could stay at the center overnight.[3] When he was refused, Murray opened fire,[1] killing Tiffany Johnson, the center's Director of Hospitality, and staff member Philip Crouse, and wounding Dan Griebenow in the neck[3] and Charlie Blanch in the leg.[6]

After the incident, the YWAM base evacuated its 80 people to the mountain campus in Black Hawk, 45 of whom were in the building at the time of the shooting.[8] Local police quickly conducted a canine search of the surrounding area for the shooter. They had hoped that fresh snow would help them track the suspect, but were unable to locate him.[3] A reverse 911 call went out to residents of the neighborhood to let them know a shooting suspect might be in their area.[8]

New Life Church shooting[edit]

At about 1:00 p.m. MST (20:00 UTC), thirty minutes after the 11:00 a.m. service had ended at New Life Church, Murray opened fire in the church parking lot, shooting the Works family and Judy Purcell. Murray then entered the building's main foyer where he shot Larry Bourbonnais, hitting him in the forearm. At this point, church member Jeanne Assam, a former Minneapolis police officer, opened fire on Murray with her personally owned, concealed firearm. Police say that after suffering multiple hits from Assam's gun, Murray fatally shot himself.[7]



After the New Life Church shooting, Assam later stated that "God guided me and protected me [and I] did not think for a minute to run away."[5][9][10][11]

On December 13, 2007, Murray's family issued a statement saying that it was "groping for answers" and issued an apology.[12]

The pastor of the church stated that Assam shot Murray before he entered 50 feet (15 m) inside the building, after she encountered him in the hallway, and that Assam probably saved "over 100 lives."[13]

Following the shooting spree, Colorado Springs Police Department officers searched the church campus looking for suspicious devices. Colorado governor Bill Ritter ordered state authorities to help investigate. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also came to the site to assist.[6]

It was not immediately known whether the shootings were related to an earlier Arvada missionary shooting, 70 miles (110 km) away. However, prior to the second shooting, police were already conducting an investigation at Murray's home.[5]

Police said the description of the gunman in the second shooting was similar to the first: a white male wearing a dark hat and dark jacket.[14]


On December 10, the gunman in both the YWAM Arvada and New Life Church shootings was identified as Matthew J. Murray, age 24, one of two sons of a Colorado neurologist. Reportedly, Murray was homeschooled in a deeply religious Christian household, and he attended, but did not complete, a missionary training program at the YWAM Arvada facility in 2002.[5] Court records indicated that Murray was bitter over his expulsion from the 12-week missionary training program.[15][16] His expulsion from the school was confirmed by Cheryl Morrison, whose husband, George Morrison, is pastor of the Faith Bible Chapel adjacent to YWAM Denver. She didn't know specifics of the conflict. "I don't think that ‘run-in’ is the word, but they did have to dismiss him. It had to be something of significance, because they go the nth degree with people." Murray was expelled from the school due to "strange behavior," which included playing frightening rock music and claiming to hear voices.[17][18] Before the second shooting, Murray left several violent and threatening messages on several religious websites, espousing his hatred for Christianity and his intentions on killing as many Christians as possible.

One message read: "I'm coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the ...teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. ...God, I can't wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don't care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you ... as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world."[19][20]

In another of his very last posts, made that morning to a Usenet newsgroup,[21] he identified himself as being a member of a local branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis. According to the chapter leader, Murray had attended their events for one or two years, but his request for membership was turned down[22] and he was asked to leave in either September[21] or October.[22]

He was also baptized into the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in late 2006, according to church records.[23]

According to investigators, Murray descended into anti-Christian derangement over a period of several months, and his web-postings became increasingly violent, despondent and hateful. Some of the users tried to counsel Murray and one psychologist even offered her services after reading his poem called "Crying all alone in pain in the nightmare of Christianity." Murray refused her offer.[19] After the killing, police found a letter addressed "To God" by Murray in his car. The letter was listed in an evidence and property invoice of items that Colorado Springs police recovered from a 1992 Toyota Camry belonging to Matthew Murray. The documents were obtained by Newsradio 850 KOA. The note to God was found in the rear passenger seat, along with two books: I Had to Say Something by Mike Jones and Serial Murderers and Their Victims by Eric W. Hickey, according to the invoice.[24]

In his online postings he cites psychological abuse at the hands of his parents as the main reason for his hatred of Christianity.[25]


  1. ^ a b "Three Dead (including perpetrator), Two Wounded, After Gunman Opens Fire Inside Colorado Christian Missionary Center". Fox News. Associated Press. 2007-12-09. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  2. ^ "Gunman opens fire at church; one suspect in custody". CNN. 2007-12-09. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d Holusha, John (2007-12-09). "Gunman Kills 2 at Missionary Center Near Denver". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  4. ^ "Ammo Shipped To P.O. Box Put Murray On Police Radar". ABC 7 News: The Denver Channel. 2007-12-12. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  5. ^ a b c d McGhee, Tom (2007-12-10). "Colo. church shooting victims identified". The Denver Post. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  6. ^ a b c "4 die in Colo. church, mission attacks". Associated Press. 2007-12-09. Archived from the original on 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  7. ^ a b "US church gunman killed himself". BBC News. 2007-12-12. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  8. ^ a b "Gunman kills 2 at missionary training center". CNN. 2007-12-09. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  9. ^ "Victims at New Life identified". KOAA-TV. 2007-12-09. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  10. ^ "Security upgrade saves churchgoers". UPI. 2007-12-10. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  11. ^ Hendrick, Thomas (2007-12-10). "Security Guard: 'God Guided Me And Protected Me'". TheDenverChannel.com. Archived from the original on 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  12. ^ "Gunman committed suicide as family apologises for shooting". Au.christiantoday.com. 2007-12-13. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  13. ^ "Police: Same Gunman Attacked Both Churches". KMGH Denver. 2007-12-10. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-10. 
  14. ^ Two US Christian centres attacked. BBC.com. 10 December 2007. Archived 22 February 2011 at WebCite
  15. ^ Kohler, Judith (2007-12-10). "Gunman in religious attacks had been thrown out of missionary school: police". Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-12-11. [dead link]
  16. ^ Merritt, George (2007-12-11). "Gunman may have warned of 2nd attack". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  17. ^ "'Colorado gunman scared co-workers 5 years ago, one says'". CNN. 2007-12-11. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  18. ^ Gathright, Alan (2007-12-10). "A gunman's bloody trail: from hate mail to mass murder". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  19. ^ a b Woodward, Paula, Jace Larson and Nicole Vap. Gunman's Web writings warn of shootings. 9News.com. 10 December 2007.[dead link]
  20. ^ Colorado Church Gunman Sought Revenge After He Was Kicked Out of Missionary Training. FoxNews.com. 11 December 2007. Archived 22 February 2011 at WebCite
  21. ^ a b Meyer, Jeremy P., David Migoya and Christopher N. Osher. "Your Colombine". The Denver Post. 12 December 2007. Archived 23 February 2011 at WebCite
  22. ^ a b Gorski, Eric. "Colorado Gunman Left Twisted Trail". Associated Press. 12 December 2007. Archived December 15, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ Dallof, Sarah (2007-12-12). "'Colorado shooter was baptized into LDS faith'". KSL News. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  24. ^ "Church shooter left letter 'To God' in car". The Denver Post. 2008-01-17. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  25. ^ http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090921/blumenthal

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