Monday, December 10, 2007

Colorado Church Gunman Hated Christians? So Says One Anonymous Official

Yet another situation of mindless killings took place in the Denver and Colorado Springs area on Sunday. Unlike the shooting in Omaha where the shooter had no apparent connections to his victims, in the Colorado shootings, the shooter appears to have had some tenuous connection to the programs in which the victims were involved. It will be interesting to see what motivated the shootings, assuming we ever fully know. Here are portions of a the Denver Post's latest coverage (
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, 24, who was home-schooled in what a friend said was a deeply religious Christian household. Murray, the son of a neurologist who is a prominent researcher on multiple sclerosis, did not appear to have a criminal history.
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. 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.
Youth With a Mission issued a press release as reported by Channel 7 News in Denver (
The shooter responsible for the deaths of two YWAM staff at our facility in Arvada, Colo. has been identified as Matthew Murray, 24, from Englewood, Colo.

Following the shooting in Arvada, Murray fled to Colorado Springs where he opened fire at New Life Church, killing two others before being shot and killed by a security guard. The victims at New Life Church -- sisters Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachel Works, 16 -- were involved with a summer outreach organized by New Life Church and a ministry of YWAM, which rents office space in the New Life campus. An older sister from the Works family participated in a YWAM Discipleship Training Program at a center in Colorado Springs.

Murray was briefly a student at the YWAM Arvada training centre in 2002. He was enrolled in a Discipleship Training School (DTS) but did not complete the program. The DTS is a 12-week classroom course followed by a 12-week field assignment, usually to another culture.

The goal of the program is to form Christian character and assist students in discovering their unique, God-given talents. Cross-cultural exposure and global awareness are special emphases throughout these courses, preparing the students to use their talents to obey the commands of Jesus. The program also involves local outreach with nearby churches and communities, and each student is involved in helping run the practical operations of the YWAM center.

Not everyone completing a DTS necessarily joins YWAM. Many participate in a DTS to take time out to focus on their faith and consider whether God might be calling them to Christian ministry. For those who choose to go on into a career with YWAM, successful completion of the DTS qualifies them to apply for hundreds of staff opportunities or further training. Murray did not complete the lecture phase of his Discipleship Training School, nor did he participate in the field assignment.

The program directors felt that issues with his health made it inappropriate for him to do so. Murray left the Arvada training center and no one at the facility recalls that he has made any other visits or had any communication with the center since that time. YWAM would like to express its heartfelt condolences to the families of the other victims. Our hearts also go out to the Murray family, to whom we extend a spirit of forgiveness.
What few facts are known about the shooter are that his father is a well known doctor and that neighbors described Murray as a loner and as someone who was very quiet and didn't talk to neighbors. A friend also told The Associated Press that Murray grew up in a deeply religious Christian household. It will be interesting to see how the Christianists spin this one given Murray's background.

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