Forget About That Corny Corner-Ribbon's Drivel! The Real Secret is HERE Indeed - not over there!

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Christmas Time - Plenty Of Reasons To Be Afraid


"Susan Medina, a spokesperson for the Arvada, Colo., Police Department, considers a question from a reporter during a news conference outside a youth ministry dormitory on the campus of Faith Bible Church in Arvada, Colo., early on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007. A gunman entered the dormitory and killed two residents while another leaving two others injured and taken to hospital."
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)




I dare post Susan Medina's picture
in relation to this sad event
because she looks so much like
my own long-deceased cousin
Lionilde Pimentel.
+++
News such as this
would have saddened
and shocked her.
And I consider her
like a second mother,
very nearly.

She definitely could have been
Susan Medina's mother, also.
Uncanny resemblance...
+++



When even such hallowed ground
as the 'New Life Church'
and the "Youth With a Mission" center
(now forever stuck with a new
somber, darker double meaning)
can become places
where you will be shot and killed
- it is clear that NOWHERE is safe nowadays
(and no wonder it also happened
most recently, in a shopping center.)

Not everyone can handle
the Christmas Spirit -
not when they have access to guns, no...

Not when there is
only hatred in their hearts.


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Gunman kills 2 in missionary center

By GEORGE MERRITT,
Associated Press Writer
Sun Dec 9, 3:22 PM ET

ARVADA, Colo. - A gunman opened fire in a training center dormitory for young Christian missionaries early Sunday after being told he couldn't spend the night, killing two of the center's staff members and wounding two others. No arrests had been made by afternoon.

The shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center in this Denver suburb, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said.

A man and a woman were killed and two men were wounded, Medina said. All four were staff members, said Paul Filidis, a Colorado Springs-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.

The gunman came to the door of the dormitory seeking shelter, asking if he could spend the night, said Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission Denver.

When told he couldn't stay, the man walked inside, opened fire, then left on foot, Warren said.

Warren said he didn't know if any of the students or staff knew the gunman. He said the man had not been at a Christmas party that staff and students held at the dormitory that evening.

"We don't know why" he came to the dormitory, Warren said.

Witnesses told police that the gunman was a 20-year-old white male, wearing a dark jacket and skull cap, who left on foot. He may have glasses or a beard.

Police with dogs searched the area through the night, and residents of nearby homes were notified by reverse 911 to be on the lookout. Medina said residents were asked to look out their windows for any tracks left in the snow during the night. About 4 inches of snow had fallen in the area in the past day.

Brady White, who attends Faith Bible Chapel, where the center is located, said students he spoke to called the experience "terrifying."

"They're just wonderful people," White said of the center's students. "Their mission is to know God and to make him known."

Police identified the victims as Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 23. Youth With a Mission said Johnson was from Minnesota and Crouse was from Alaska. Their hometowns weren't immediately available.

About 45 people were evacuated from the dormitory and moved to an undisclosed location.

Cheril Morrison, wife of chapel pastor George Morrison, said Crouse had just hung up Christmas lights at her home and Johnson was "an amazingly beautiful person."

One of the injured men was hospitalized in critical condition and the other was in stable condition, police said. Both are in their 20s.

Mimi Martin, who lives near the center, said she received the warning call at about 9 a.m. warning neighbors to keep their doors and windows locked.

"Why would anybody want to hurt those kids?" Martin said. "I just pray for their families."

People bundled up against freezing cold attended Sunday services at the sanctuary, about 300 yards from the dormitory on the campus of the Faith Bible Chapel. Police kept tight security on the chapel grounds.

"We never doubted that we would have a service," said Cheril Morrison. "We felt like our church faithful all needed to be together."

Darv Smith, director of a Youth With a Mission center in Boulder, said people ranging from their late teens to their 70s undergo a 12-week course that prepares them to be missionaries. He said the center trains about 300 people a year.

Filidis said staffers are usually former missionaries themselves and that the "mercy ministries" performed by trainees include orphanage work. He said he didn't know where the group being trained in Arvada was going to be sent.

Youth With a Mission was started in 1960 and now has 1,100 locations with 16,000 full-time staff, Smith said. The Arvada center was founded in 1984.









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4 die in Colo. church, mission attacks

By JUDITH KOHLER,
Associated Press Writer
10 minutes ago


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A gunman shot four staff members at a missionary training center near Denver early Sunday, killing two, after being told he couldn't spend the night. About 12 hours later and 65 miles away in Colorado Springs, a gunman fatally shot a parishioner at a megachurch and wounded four other people before a guard killed him, police said.

The police chief in Arvada, a suburb about 15 miles west of Denver where the mission workers were shot, said the shootings may be related to those in Colorado Springs but declined to elaborate. No one had been captured in the Arvada shootings, authorities said.

The mission training program in Arvada does have a small office on the Colorado Springs church campus.

Witness descriptions differed in each incident. A handgun was used in the shootings at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, while a rifle was used at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, police said.

The gunman at the New Life Church was shot and killed by a church security guard after entering the church's main foyer with high-powered rifle shortly before 1 p.m. and opening fire, Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers said. Four others were wounded, Myers said.

The church's 11 a.m. service had recently ended, and hundreds of people were milling about when the gunman opened fire. Nearby were parents picking up their children from the nursery.

Police arrived to find that the gunman had been killed by a member of the church's armed security staff, Myers said.

"There was a courageous staff member who probably saved many lives here today," Myers said.

Gov. Bill Ritter ordered state authorities to help investigate. The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting. Officers found several smoke-generating devices on the church campus, Myers said. Their intended purpose wasn't clear.

Three of the injured were taken to Penrose Community Hospital in Colorado Springs, said hospital spokeswoman Amy Sufak. One person was in critical condition and another in fair condition. The third was treated and released, and the fourth was treated at the scene of the shooting, Myers said.

New Life was founded by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was fired last year after a former male prostitute alleged he had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with him. Haggard, then the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted committing undisclosed "sexual immorality."

The New Life church is one of Colorado's largest with about 10,000 members.

About 7,000 people were on the Colorado Springs campus at the time of the shooting, Senior Pastor Brady Boyd said. Security at the church had been beefed up after the early morning shootings in Arvada, he said.

That shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, a Denver suburb, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said.

A man and a woman were killed and two men were wounded, Medina said. All four were staff members of the center, said Paul Filidis, a Colorado Springs-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.

Arvada Police Chief Don Wick, asked whether he believed there was reason to think the shootings are related, responded, "Yes, there is reason to believe that."

Wick said the suspect spent several minutes speaking with people inside the dorm. Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission Denver, said the man asked whether he could spend the night. Several youths called on Tiffany Johnson, the center's director of hospitality.

"The director of hospitality was called. That's when he opened fire," Warren said. Johnson, 26, was killed.

Warren said he didn't know whether any of the students or staff knew the gunman. "We don't know why" he came to the dormitory, Warren said.

Witnesses told police that the gunman was a 20-year-old white male, wearing a dark jacket and skull cap, who had a handgun and left on foot. He may have glasses or a beard.

Police with dogs searched the area through the night, and residents of nearby homes were notified by reverse 911 to be on the lookout. Medina said residents were asked to look out their windows for any tracks left in the snow during the night. About 4 inches of snow had fallen in the area in the past day.

In addition to Johnson, killed in Arvada was Philip Crouse, 24. Youth With a Mission said Johnson was from Minnesota and Crouse was from Alaska.

The missionary center identified the wounded as Dan Griebenow, 24, of South Dakota, and Charlie Blanch, 22, whose hometown wasn't immediately known. One of the men was in critical condition, and the other was stable, police said.

The missionary center is on the grounds of the Faith Bible Chapel. Cheril Morrison, wife of chapel pastor George Morrison, said Crouse had just hung up Christmas lights at her home and that Johnson was "an amazingly beautiful person."

Mimi Martin, who lives near the center, said she received the warning call at about 9 a.m. warning neighbors to keep their doors and windows locked.

"Why would anybody want to hurt those kids?" Martin said.

Darv Smith, director of a Youth With a Mission center in Boulder, said people ranging from their late teens to their 70s undergo a 12-week course that prepares them to be missionaries. He said the center trains about 300 people a year.

Filidis said staffers are usually former missionaries themselves and that the "mercy ministries" performed by trainees include orphanage work. He said he didn't know where the group being trained in Arvada was going to be sent.

Youth With a Mission was started in 1960 and now has 1,100 locations with 16,000 full-time staff, Smith said. The Arvada center was founded in 1984.

___

Contributing to this report were AP Religion Writer Eric Gorski and writer Colleen Slevin in Denver, and writer George Merritt in Arvada.







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Nine shot in 2 church-related Colorado attacks

By Keith Coffman
Sun Dec 9, 9:28 PM ET


DENVER (Reuters) - Three people were shot to death and six were wounded in Colorado on Sunday in two church-related shootings in the U.S. Christian heartland.

A gunman -- described by an eyewitness as dressed in black, wearing combat boots and holding an assault rifle and at least one handgun -- wounded four people when he opened fire in the parking lot of the vast New Life evangelical church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, after Sunday services, police said.

A New Life church security guard shot and killed the gunman before police arrived on the scene, Colorado Springs police chief Richard Myers told a news conference.

Police did not identify the gunman. There were about 7,000 people in the building when shooting erupted, a pastor said.

In an earlier incident, 70 miles away, a man who entered a Christian missionary training center in the Denver suburb of Arvada with a handgun killed two young missionaries and wounded two others shortly after midnight, police said.

The Arvada gunman, also dressed in dark clothing, fled on foot in the snow.

Police in the two cities said they were sharing information but declined to say whether they thought the attacks were related. There was no indication of motive in either case.

However a spokesman for the Arvada missionary group said the organization had an office on the Colorado Springs campus of the New Life church.

Myers said police had found several suspicious devices at the New Life church and were still searching campus buildings five hours after the shooting. He declined to elaborate.

The attacks -- at Christian religious buildings on a Sunday shortly before Christmas -- caused shock and dismay.

LEADING 'MEGACHURCH'

Colorado Springs is a focal point of evangelical activity in the United States. New Life is a leading "megachurch" with more than 10,000 members and the city is also the headquarters for the influential Christian conservative group Focus on the Family.

"When innocent people are killed in a religious facility or a place of worship, we must voice a collective sense of outrage," said Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter in a statement.

Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado said, "It is incomprehensible that such atrocities could occur in places of faith and worship."

In the Arvada shooting, a young man came to the door of the Youth With a Mission dormitory asking for a place to stay, the group said in a statement.

When he was told he could not be accommodated there, he pulled out a handgun and opened fire. Two youth staffers were killed and two were wounded. They had been up late cleaning up after a Christmas party.

The mission is an international and interdenominational Christian organization that trains young people to work as missionaries.

In Colorado Springs, staff at the New Life church said they had tightened security after hearing about the Arvada shooting.

The roughly 7,000 people inside the building were swiftly evacuated to a downstairs basement after shooting started, pastor Brady Boyd told reporters.

"They came to church with their families to worship and what happened today was a real tragedy," Boyd said.

The New Life Church was founded 20 years ago by pastor Ted Haggard who resigned in disgrace a year ago after admitting to sexually immoral conduct following a friendship with a male prostitute.

(Additional reporting by Steven Saint in Colorado Springs and Ed Stoddard in Dallas; writing by Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles; editing by Mohammad Zargham)









+++
 
Colo. church gunman had been kicked out

By JUDITH KOHLER,
Associated Press Writer
11 minutes ago



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The gunman believed to have killed four people at a megachurch and a missionary training school had been thrown out of the school a few years ago and had been sending it hate mail, police said in court papers Monday.

The gunman was identified as Matthew Murray, 24, who was home-schooled in what a friend said was a deeply religious Christian household. Murray's father is a neurologist and a leading multiple-sclerosis researcher.

Five people — including Murray — were killed, and five others wounded Sunday in the two eruptions of violence 12 hours and 65 miles apart.

The first attack took place at Youth With a Mission, a training center for missionaries in the Denver suburb of Arvada; the other occurred at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where Murray was shot by a security guard, though investigators said he may have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"Through both investigations it has been determined that most likely the suspect in both shootings are one in the same," police said in court papers.

Colorado Springs police said the "common denominator in both locations" was Youth With a Mission. The training center maintains an office at the 10,000-member church.

"It appears that the suspect had been kicked out of the program three years prior and during the past few weeks had sent different forms of hate mail to the program and-or its director," police said.

In a statement, the training center said health problems kept Murray from finishing the program. It did not elaborate. Murray did not complete the lecture phase or a field assignment as part of a 12-week program, Youth With a Mission said.

"The program directors felt that issues with his health made it inappropriate for him to" finish, it said.

Police gave no immediate details on the hate mail. And the training center said that Murray left in 2002 — five years ago, not three — and that no one there can recall any visits or other communication from him since then.

Earlier Monday, a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity said it appeared Murray "hated Christians."

Investigators have not said whether Murray singled out his victims. But the two people killed at the church — sisters Stephanie and Rachael Works, ages 18 and 16 — frequented the training center, their uncle Mark Schaepe of Lincoln, Neb., told The Gazette of Colorado Springs.

Authorities searched the Murray house on a quiet street in Englewood on Monday for guns, ammunition and computers. No one was home when a reporter visited the split-level brick home early Monday. Murray's father, Ronald S. Murray, is chief executive of the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center in Englewood.

Matthew Murray lived there along with a brother, Christopher, 21, a student at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.

A neighbor, Cody Askeland, 19, said the brothers were home-schooled, describing the whole family as "very, very religious."

Christopher studied for a semester at Colorado Christian University before transferring to Oral Roberts, said Ronald Rex, dean of admissions and marketing at Colorado Christian. He said Matthew Murray had been in contact with school officials this summer about attending the school but decided he wasn't interested because he thought the school was too expensive.

Police said Murray's only previous brush with the law was a traffic ticket earlier this year.

Senior Pastor Brady Boyd of New Life Church said the gunman had no connection to the church. "We don't know this shooter," Boyd said. "He showed up on our property yesterday with a gun with the intention of hurting people, and he did."

The gunman opened fire at 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center. Witnesses said the man asked to spend the night there and opened fire with a handgun when he was turned down. They described him as a young man, perhaps 20, in a dark jacket and cap.

Later, at New Life Church, a gunman wearing a trench coat and carrying a high-powered rifle opened fire in the parking lot and later walked into the church as a service was letting out.

Jeanne Assam, a church member who volunteers as a security guard, shot Murray, who was found with a rifle and two handguns, police said.

Assam said she believes God gave her the strength to confront Murray, keeping her calm and focused.

"It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," she said at a news conference.

The pastor credited her with preventing more bloodshed.

"There could have been a great loss of life yesterday, and she probably saved over 100 lives."

Boyd said the gunman had a lot of ammunition and estimated that 40 rounds had been fired inside the church, leaving what looked like a "war scene."

About 7,000 people were in and around the church the time of the shooting, Boyd said. Security had been beefed up after the shootings hours earlier in Arvada, he said. The church had a total of 15 to 20 volunteer security officers inside at the time of the attack, he said.

Some members of the congregation reacted with compassion and forgiveness, in keeping with their faith.

Ashley Gibbs was getting into a car with David Harris when they heard the gunshots. They stayed in the vehicle.

"It was obvious that he was in some sort of pain and going through a lot," Gibbs told "Today." "I just prayed God would bring him peace."

New Life, with a largely upper middle-class membership, was founded by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was dismissed last year after a former male prostitute alleged he had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with him. Haggard admitted committing unspecified "sexual immorality."

The two people killed at the missionary center were identified as Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24.

Johnson, who grew up in Chisholm, Minn., loved working with children and wanted to see the world, said family friend Carla Macynski.

"Tiffany was a well-liked, easygoing 26-year-old. She was friendly, adventurous and a definite leader," Macynski said as she choked back tears. Johnson had traveled to Egypt, Libya and South Africa with the missionary group.

Crouse, of Alaska, was a former skinhead who went through a dramatic spiritual conversion at 18. He had helped build a foster home at a Crow Indian reservation in Montana, said Ronny Morris, who works with a Denver chapter of the mission.

"Whenever somebody asks me to give a specific situation where a kid's life has been changed or transformed, I always think of Phil, because he had such a radical transformation of life," said pastor Zach Chandler in Anchorage, Alaska.

Youth With a Mission was started in 1960 and has 1,100 locations with 16,000 full-time staff, said Darv Smith, director of a Youth With a Mission center in Boulder.

The Colorado shootings came days after a 19-year-old gunman opened fire at a busy department store in Omaha, Neb., killing eight people and himself.

___

Associated Press Religion Writer Eric Gorski and AP writers Colleen Slevin and Jacques Billeaud in Denver, George Merritt in Arvada and Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington contributed to this report.








Full Coverage: Colorado Church Shootings

Off the Wires
* Gunman in Colorado church shooting identified, toll rises to five AFP,
Mon Dec 10, 3:43 PM ET
* Colorado police look for links in church killings Reuters,
Mon Dec 10, 12:44 PM ET

Feature Articles
* Group targeted in shooting has far reach AP via Yahoo! News, Dec 10
* Slain Springs sisters were active in Arvada missionary group at Rocky Mountain News, Dec 10

News Stories
* Gunman defied guard's order at Rocky Mountain News, Dec 10
* Gunman ID'd in Springs shooting at Denver Post, Dec 10

U.S. News
* Attacks force churches to boost security AP
* Ice storm causes blackouts, 15 deaths AP
* Mo. prosecutors: Man admits to killing 9 AP
* Calif. town divided over Blackwater plan AP
* FBI backing plan for Vegas mob museum AP

Most Viewed - U.S.
* Ice storm causes blackouts, 15 deaths AP
* FBI backing plan for Vegas mob museum AP
* Hollywood pair killed by alleged drunk driver Reuters
* Calif. town divided over Blackwater plan AP
* At least 11 dead as ice storm sweeps central US AFP





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It must have been hell going through Christmas this year when you are a close relative of someone who was so senselessly killed a mere two weeks earlier...


My most sincere condolences to the kins, close friends, spouses, offspring and dear ones of the victims of this tragedy as those of the other one that occurred in a shopping mall...




Keep the Faith.

+++

 
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