Two Church Massacres. Two Different Endings

Evil people cause tragedy. How good people respond to that evil can minimize and even stop the evil.

On December 9th, 2007, a madman attacked and killed two people at a Youth With A Mission training center in Arvada, Colorado. He escaped and later that day attacked and killed two more people at the New Life Church parking lot in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While walking inside the church, he was confronted and wounded by a concealed weapon holder. He later committed suicide at the scene. He was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, two handguns, and over a thousand rounds of ammo. That concealed weapon holder possibly saved the lives of hundreds of people in the church.

Guard saved untold lives, officials say

L.A. Times December 11th, 2007

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. — The gunshots were so loud that Jeanne Assam thought the shooter was already in the building.

A former police officer, Assam, 42, was on security duty Sunday morning at New Life Church here. Hours earlier, a 24-year-old who had been rejected from a missionary school in a Denver suburb had shot and killed two staffers there. Now he was spraying New Life’s parking lot with gunfire and pushing through the doors to the sanctuary.

Assam hid and inched toward the gunman, Matthew Murray, as dozens of terrified worshipers fled. She waited until he got close enough, revealed herself, aimed her pistol and fired. Murray dropped to the ground. He was carrying an assault rifle, two pistols and a backpack holding more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

"I just prayed to the Holy Spirit to guide me," Assam said at a packed news conference Monday. "I give the credit to God. This has got to be God, because of the firepower he had versus what I have."

Authorities on Monday said Assam saved untold lives as they described how Murray, the home-schooled son of a prominent neurologist, terrorized two religious facilities during a harrowing 12-hour rampage.

Police said it was unclear whether Assam’s shots killed Murray or whether the gunman, after being wounded, took his own life.

Murray killed two teenage sisters at New Life Church on Sunday afternoon and wounded their father and two other worshipers. The gunman had been at large since 12:30 a.m., when he attacked the Youth With a Mission school in Arvada.

Phil Abeyta, a pastor who is Murray’s uncle, spoke to reporters outside the school Monday afternoon.

"Our family can’t express the magnitude of our grief for the victims and families," Abeyta said tearfully. "On behalf of our family, we ask for forgiveness. We can’t understand why this has happened."

At Abeyta’s side was Peter Warren, the school’s director. Warren said that when Murray came to the school early Sunday asking to stay the night, staff members did not recognize him.After Murray was identified by police, the school realized he had attended its training program in 2002. The Arvada school is a branch of an international missionary program that trains thousands annually.

Warren said school officials refused to assign Murray to a mission because of an unspecified health problem that could make such work unsafe. Warren would not elaborate, and he and Abeyta left without taking questions.

Police said it appeared Murray acted alone, although they were still investigating whether he had help getting from Arvada to Colorado Springs.

In court papers, police said Murray had written threatening letters to the school and spent many hours a day on the Internet as a computer student, the Gazette of Colorado Springs reported.

He lived at home with his 21-year-old brother and his parents in a two-story brick home in an affluent neighborhood in Englewood, a suburb at the southern end of Denver’s sprawl. His father, Ronald Murray, is a neurologist who specializes in treating multiple sclerosis patients.

Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Jeff Jensen said it was too early to know what precisely motivated Matthew Murray. "This tragedy is just a little over 24 hours old and we’re still in the process of gathering information," he said at an afternoon news conference.

Would an armed concealed weapon holder have made a difference in Charleston? We will never know. But one armed concealed weapon holder made a difference once.

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Jerry has been a criminal justice professional for nearly two decades. He is a self-proclaimed Second Amendment scholar, gun rights advocate, and NRA Life Member.