Colorado gunman sent hate mail to YWAM missionary center

A 24-year-old man embittered after being kicked out of missionary school three years ago carried out Sunday’s deadly rampages in Colorado Springs and Arvada, police said today.

Matthew J. Murray, who was killed by a New Life Church security guard during his second attack, had recently sent “hate mail” to the target of his first attack — Youth With A Mission training center in Arvada, according to a police document supporting a warrant to search the Murray family’s home in Arapahoe County.

At an afternoon press conference today, police said gun testing, the house search and interviews with Murray’s family members and others confirmed that he was responsible for the shooting rampages.

“Within the past 30 minutes, testing has confirmed that the handgun found at the church in Colorado Springs is forensically linked to shell casings found at the crime scene in Arvada,” Arvada Police Chief Don Wick said during the press conference at the Colorado Springs Police Department.

Police said Murray was armed with an assault rifle, two handguns and a backpack jammed with bullet clips carrying 1,000 rounds as well as smoke bombs.

“Based on information obtained during the course of the investigation, we believe that Matthew Murray is responsible for the crime,” Wick said.

Police are investigating Murray’s 2002 dismissal from the Youth With A Mission training center in Arvada, Wick said.

But court records obtained by the Rocky today said Murray was bitter over his explusion from the 12-week missionary training program.

“The common denominator with both locations of (the shootings), is a church-based group called ‘Youth With A Mission’ (Y-WAM),” Colorado Springs Detective Bradley Pratt wrote Sunday in a search warrant affidavit.

“It appears that the suspect had been kicked out of that program … years prior, and during the past few weeks, had sent different forms of hate mail to the program, and/or its director,” Pratt wrote.

Murray’s ejection from the school was confirmed by Cheryl Morrison, whose husband, George Morrison, is pastor of the Faith Bible Chapel adjacent to Y-WAM Arvada. 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,” Cheryl Morrison said. “It had to be something of significance, because they go the nth degree with people.”

The search warrant affidavit shows that Murray assaulted New Life Church like a commando on a suicide mission.

As people were leaving the Colorado Springs megachurch just after 1 p.m. Sunday, the gunman clad in a black coat “deployed distraction devices, possibly in the form of homemade smoke grenades, and/or improvised explosive devices” in the parking lot and began spraying gunfire, the affidavit says.

The gunman killed Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, outside the church. The girl’s father, David Works, 51, was shot in the abdomen and groin area in the attack and remained hospitalized in fair condition.

But Murray’s attack was halted after he entered the church foyer. A security guard shot the gunman dead.

Murray, son of metro-area neurologist Ronald Murray, lived at a house south of Cherry Creek Reservoir that was first searched before the second shooting Sunday.

Police agencies first arrived at the Murray home in the 10900 block of East Berry Place before noon Sunday and searched until before dawn today.

Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson confirmed that his agency’s bomb squad was dispatched to the home in the 10900 block of East Berry Place about 7:15 Sunday night. He said his agency was supporting Arvada and Colorado Springs police who were executing a search warrant at the house.

Several smoke bombs were found at the scene of the second shooting at New Life Church, Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers said.

Robinson said deputies initially arrived at the home after the first shooting, which occurred at 12:30 a.m. Sunday at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, but before the second shooting occurred after 1 p.m. outside the Colorado Springs church.

Police were seen taking several boxes of items from the Murrays’ home.

Murray’s neighbors described Matthew as a recluse.

Robinson referred questions about the search and what was seized to Arvada and Colorado Springs police.

Ronald Murray’s Lone Tree medical office was closed this morning.

“Dr. Murray’s office is closed and he will not be available until further notice,” a phone recording said.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday December 11, 2007.
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