2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings
|2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings|
|Location||Arvada and Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.|
|Date||December 9, 2007
c. 12:30 a.m. – c. 1:00 p.m.
|Target||Youth With a Mission center and New Life Church|
|Spree shooting, murder–suicide|
|Deaths||5 (including the perpetrator)|
|Perpetrator||Matthew James Murray|
|Defender||New Life: Jeanne Assam (Former police officer/church member providing security)|
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; he then committed suicide.
Arvada missionary shooting
Around 12:30 a.m. MST (07:30 UTC), following a Christmas banquet that had taken place earlier that night, a man knocked on the door of the Youth With a Mission center. The man asked personnel in the facility if he could stay at the center overnight. When he was refused, the man opened fire, killing Tiffany Johnson, the center's director of hospitality, and staff member Philip Crouse. Dan Griebenow was critically wounded with a bullet in his neck, and Charlie Blanch suffered bullet wounds to the leg.
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. Local police quickly conducted a canine search of the surrounding area for the man. They had hoped that fresh snow would help them track the suspect, but were unable to locate him. A reverse 911 call went out to residents of the neighborhood to let them know a shooting suspect might be in their area.
New Life Church shooting
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 firearm. Police say that after suffering multiple hits from Assam's gun, Murray fatally shot himself.
Youth With a Mission center shooting victims
New Life Church shooting victims
On December 13, 2007, Murray's family issued a statement saying that it was "groping for answers" and issued an apology.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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. Court records indicated that Murray was bitter over his expulsion from the 12-week missionary training program. 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. 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."
In another of his very last posts, made that morning to a Usenet newsgroup, 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 and he was asked to leave in either September or October.
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. 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.
In his online postings he cites psychological abuse at the hands of his parents as the main reason for his hatred of Christianity.
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