Church gunman “hated Christians”

Chief Richard W. Myers of the Colorado Springs Police Department updates the media on the investigation into the Arvada and New Life Church shootings.

Police describe a chaotic life and death scene with smoke bombs going off outside the New Life Church moments before Matthew Murray began firing killing two and wounding others Sunday.

Forensic evidence from the shooting matches that found at Arvada’s Youth with a Mission, scene of an earlier rampage that killed two others.

A law-enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation, told The Associated Press that 24-year-old Matthew Murray of Arapahoe County was the lone gunman who killed four people and wounded five others on two church campuses before he was killed.

Murray, the son of a neurologist who is a prominent researcher on multiple sclerosis, did not appear to have a criminal history but “hated Christians,” the official said. The official did not know Murray’s religion, if any.

Arvada police said Sunday night after the attacks — which were 70 miles apart — that authorities had “reason to believe” they were linked.

In court papers filed Monday, police said the gunman had been thrown out of the missionary school about three years ago and had been sending hate mail to the program.

Murray, armed with hundreds of rounds of ammunition and four weapons — including an AK-47 assault rifle, killed two teenage sisters and wounded their father and two others at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

He fired numerous rounds from the AK-47 in the parking lot before entering the church, where he was killed by a security guard. The guard fired as many as six bullets into him, according to sources. Murray also had an automatic pistol and a shotgun.

The shootings after a service at the megachurch Sunday afternoon followed a bloodbath in the early morning hours at Youth With a Mission, a missionary training facility in Arvada.

Two Youth With a Mission staff members died after that shooting, and two more were wounded.

Murray, whose last known address was his parent’s unincorporated Arapahoe County home, as the shooter in both incidents.

Investigators, including a bomb squad, searched a home on East Berry Place on Sunday night.

In 1990, Murray was registered as a home-schooled child with the Cherry Creek School District, said district spokeswoman Tustin Amole. He later took the Iowa test, a standard test given to third-graders nationwide at the time, said Amole. That is the last record that the district has on him.

Murray’s later school history indicates a young man adrift. He attended Arapahoe Community College for a while, then quit. Last year he enrolled for a class at Colorado Christian University but dropped out immediately after enrolling.

Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, were the Youth With a Mission staffers killed.

Charlie Blanch, 22, and Dan Griebenow, 24, were wounded.

The missionary group plans a press conference at 4 p.m. as well today. The organization said that although Murray worked for YWAM at one time, reports that he was a member are incorrect.

Murray has something in common with the sisters who died at New Life, Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16. They too were home-schooled.

Their father, David Works, 51, was shot twice in the abdomen and groin and is in fair condition, police said. Judy Purcell, 40, and Larry Bourbannais, 59, also were wounded.

The name of the New Life security guard who shot and killed Murray not been released.

Brady Boyd, pastor of New Life Church, said the gunman has no ties to the church.

“None of us grew up in a church where this is a reality,” Boyd said of the violence. “Now it is.”

The shootings in Colorado Springs happened at about 1:10 p.m. Sunday with 7,000 worshipers still on the New Life campus, after morning services.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)

Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday December 11, 2007.
Last updated if a date shows here:


More About This Subject


Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission -- at no additional cost to you -- for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate, Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this research service free of charge.

Speaking of which: One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at