Colorado gunman scared co-workers 5 years ago, heard voices one says

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) — Matthew Murray was kicked out of a missionary training program five years ago for strange behavior, and talked about hearing voices, according to a man who served at the center with him.

Murray was the gunman who killed two people at the Youth With A Mission center on Sunday and two others at a Colorado Springs megachurch later that day, police said. He was shot by a church security guard and died of his wounds.

Richard Werner, 34, said Monday he was a worker at the center in Arvada, Colorado, in 2002, the same time as Murray.

He said Murray was told in December 2002 he would not be allowed to join a mission trip to Bosnia. That was five days after Murray performed a pair of dark rock songs at a concert at the mission that made fellow workers “pretty scared,” according to Werner.

The performance — which included a song by rock band Linkin Park and another that had been recorded by controversial rocker Marilyn Manson — followed months of strange behavior, Werner said.

Werner, of Balneario Camborius, Brazil, said he had a bunk near Murray’s and that Murray would roll around in bed and make noises.

“He would say, ‘Don’t worry, I’m just talking to the voices,’ ” Werner said. “He’d say, ‘Don’t worry, Richard. You’re a nice guy. The voices like you.’ ”

Werner said he instantly suspected Murray when he heard the news of Sunday’s shootings.

“I turned to my wife and I said, ‘I know who did it. It’s Matthew,’ ” he said. “It was so obvious.

“For four months, he was sleeping right next to me. Those are the things you don’t imagine, but when it happened it was so obvious.”

Werner said his “heart is crushed” by news of the shootings.

Peter Warren, director of Youth With A Mission, said Monday that Murray did not go on the mission he was training for in 2002 because managers thought that “issues relating to his health made it unsafe for him to do so.”

Another source — a longtime member of New Life church, site of the second shooting — told CNN that Murray had a falling out with Youth With A Mission after working with the organization a couple of years ago, and that he sent antagonistic and threatening correspondence afterward.

Phil Abeyta, who identified himself as Murray’s uncle, read a statement from the family Monday asking for forgiveness.

“Our family cannot express the magnitude of our grief for the victims and families of this tragedy,” he said. ” … We cannot understand why this has happened.”

Abeyta spoke at a news conference with spokesmen from the Youth With A Mission center.

Police said Murray, 24, of Englewood, Colorado, shot and killed two people at the Youth With A Mission center and wounded two others early Sunday.

At New Life Church, some 80 miles away, Murray sprayed fire from an assault rifle and threw smoke bombs in at least two locations where large numbers of congregants were likely to be, police said. Two teenage sisters were shot in the church’s parking lot and died of their wounds; three other people, including the girls’ father, were wounded.

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