Four Killed by Shooter Who "Hated Christians"
The Wired Word for December 16, 2007
In the News
In the early hours of Sunday morning December 9, a man appeared at the door of the Youth With A Mission missionary center in Arvada, Colorado. He soon opened fire, killing two young staff members and injuring two others, one critically. He then fled the scene. Police attempted to track him through the fresh snow using dogs, but lost his trail in a heavily tracked area.
About 11 hours later, as parishioners were leaving New Life Church in Colorado Springs, some 80 miles from the missionary center, a gunman opened fire on people in the parking lot, killing two teenage sisters and wounding their father. The shooter then entered the church, where he was shot by a member of the church with law enforcement experience who was working as one of several volunteer security guards for the congregation. After being dropped by the guard's bullets, the assailant fatally shot himself.
It was subsequently learned that the shooter in both incidents was the same man, Matthew Murray, who had a history of strange behavior. He had once been a participant at the missionary center, where he was dropped from a mission trip because of issues of either health or behavior (reports vary). He had no known connection to the New Life Church, but between the two attacks, he posted angry statements on the Internet threatening Christians and saying that they "are to blame for most of the problems of the world." His victims appear to be randomly chosen.
The guard who stopped Murray was Jeanne Assam, who said she ran toward the shooting, indentified herself, engaged him, and then took him down with several shots. "It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," Assam said. She later extended her sympathy to the families of the victims "and the gunman -- and I mean that very sincerely," she said.
The church's senior pastor, Brady Boyd, said that the church had instituted additional security measures after hearing about the shootings at the missionary center. He called Assam a hero. "She probably saved over a hundred lives," Brady said. The gunman was heavily armed and had as many as 1,000 rounds of ammunition with him.
A press release from the church made it clear that Assam was not a hired outsider but "a volunteer -- this is a person that comes to our church and is a worshiper here. We have two services -- so she sits in one service and worships, and then serves in the second service as security many times."
More on this story may be found at these links:
http://www.newlifechurch.org/nln.jsp?id=20 (click on "Download PDF of 9 a.m. press conference here")
. . . . .
The Big Questions
1. Is it true that high-profile mega-churches have a greater security risk than small, rural churches?
2. Do you think that churches are likely to be the next venue of choice for people seeking to make a murderous statement? Why or why not?
3. How do our concerns for security in this life mesh with our Christian belief in eternal security?
4. How do we minister to those who are disturbed and have access to firearms?
5. In general, should churches routinely employ armed security personnel? Why or why not? How does this square with our mission to take the gospel to all the world?
Confronting the News with Scripture
Small group discussion of topics and issues like this can be very enlightening. If you belong to such a group, consider bringing this article to the group to look at.
Here are some Bible verses to guide us