December 10, 2007
Five killed in New Life Church, YWAM center attacks
Police think two separate shootings may be related.
Five people were left dead after shooting sprees at two Colorado megachurches Sunday. Five others were wounded.
Two people were killed and two wounded at the YWAM training center on the grounds of Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, a Denver suburb. A man walked into the center around midnight and after about 30 minutes of talking with staff members, he asked to spend the night there. The receptionist at the center told him no, that no unauthorized person were not allowed. The man reportedly said, "Then this is what I've got for you," pulled out a gun and began shooting.
About 70 miles away and 12 hours later, three people were killed after a man in similar dress opened fire at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
Sisters Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, died from gunshot wounds. Their 51-year-old father, David Works, was shot twice in his abdomen and groin area and is in fair condition. Also wounded were Judy Purcell, 40, and Larry Bourbannais, 59. They were treated and released.
Witnesses told the Gazette in Colorado Springs that a man in a black trench coat opened fire in the parking lot setting off a smoke grenade before blasting cars and church members. Police said that the gunman was shot and killed by a plainclothes security guard with a law enforcement background and who is a member of the church.
New Life's senior pastor, Brady Boyd, said that after the YWAM shooting the church called in more than the usual number of security volunteers and "because of the extra precautions we saved many lives yesterday."
"They came to church with their families to worship, and what happened today was a tragedy," Boyd said at a press conference. "As a pastor, my heart is broken today for people that lost their lives."
Another Colorado Springs megachurch, Woodmen Valley Chapel, is providing grief counseling for New Life members, pastor-at-large Tim MacDonald told Christianity Today.
"We're in a sense of disbelief and surrealism that this would take place. We're still dealing with shock and after effects of what has taken place," he said. "We are so saddened by what's taken place, but we're helping in whatever way we can."
MacDonald said the shooting creates concerns for Woodmen's level of security.
"Our security plan is being scrutinized at this very moment," he said. "We're looking at what we need to do to have security without drawing away from the reason that people have come to church and that is to worship Christ."
The two dead victims at the YWAM center were identified as Tiffany Johnson, 26, of Minnesota and Philip Crouse, 24, of Alaska. Youth With a Mission leases property on Faith Bible Chapel's property.
George Morrison, the church's senior pastor, told Christianity Today that Crouse had put up Christmas lights at his house just two weeks ago. "It was tragic," Morrison said. "He was a young man that had a vision for his life and wanted to be involved in missions in Kazakhstan."
Morrison said church members were concerned and questioning, especially after hearing reports of the shooting at New Life. "These things happen in malls, in churches and in the world we live in, it's sad that we live with this. It's sobering that this could happen anytime, anywhere, to any person," he said. "We just have a sense that you have to move on."
The choir at Faith Bible Chapel had planned to kick off Sunday's service with "Joy to the World."
"We couldn't do it, Phil Waters, a member of the church choir, told The Denver Post. "There was no joy this morning."
The choir instead sang a piece about bringing offerings to God, he told the Post.
"We are really close to these kids," he said. "It was tough to be out there (singing) and not have tears running down your face."
More coverage includes:
- Colo. church gunman had been kicked out (Associated Press, most recent AP version)
- Shooter was seeking revenge, court papers say (The Gazette)
- A gunman's bloody trail: from hate mail to mass murder (Rocky Mountain News)
- Pastor tells of horrific day | The New Life Church attacker refused a guard's order to drop his weapon and fired before he was shot to death (Rocky Mountain News)
- Church members find comfort in groups, prayer (The Gazette)
- Church members await news, ask why (The Gazette)
- Gunman defied guard's order | The New Life Church attacker refused a guard's order to drop his weapon and fired before he was shot to death. (Rocky Mountain News)
- Gunman sent 'hate mail' to Arvada missionary center (Rocky Mountain News)
- Church gunman "hated Christians" (The Denver Post)
- Arvada investigators believe attacks linked | Gunman among 5 dead in assaults at center, church (Rocky Mountain News)
- Deadly attacks at mission, church may be linked | "Reason to believe" in connection (The Denver Post)
- 7,000 at church when shots fired | When bullets started flying, security officers locked the doors and people crowded into the basement (The Denver Post)
- Gunman fires on parishioners | Two members of New Life Church are killed and three are hurt. A security guard shoots and kills the attacker (The Denver Post)
- A commitment to overcome tragedy | First a wayward pastor, then a gunman in the parking lot. (The Gazette)
- 'Last place' for a deadly attack | Thousands were at one of state's largest churches (Rocky Mountain News)
- Danger and death in Arvada | Missionaries were training to serve in violent regions (Rocky Mountain News)
- Arvada missionary workers gunned down (The Denver Post)
- Group targeted in shooting has far reach | Begun in 1960 after a 20-year-old college student said he experienced a vision from God, Youth With a Mission has grown into one of the world's most formidable Christian missions groups (Associated Press)
- No general alert sent after center shootings | Deputy Chief Gary Creager said Sunday night that detectives had no indication the gunman was headed anywhere in particular and were given only a sketchy description that would have been useless to other law enforcement agencies (Rocky Mountain News)
On the victims:
- Slain Springs sisters were active in Arvada missionary group (Rocky Mountain News)
- Philip Crouse had undergone transformation (Rocky Mountain News)
- Tiffany Johnson was known for her smile, her love of children (Rocky Mountain News)
- Charlie Blanch involved with YWAM for 2 years (Rocky Mountain News)
- Dan Griebenow has group rooting for his recovery (Rocky Mountain News)
- Young missionaries caring, forgiving | One victim had turned away from gangs; one was called "an angel" (The Denver Post)
- Police ID teens killed in New Life shootings (The Gazette)
- Vietnam vet among Springs wounded | Larry Bourbannais, 59, was eating a hamburger in the cafeteria on the church campus when he heard gunfire, said his daughter(The Denver Post)
- Teen sisters killed in Springs (The Denver Post)
On church shootings and security:
- Attacks force churches to boost security | Some of the nation's estimated 1,200 megachurches have been quietly beefing up security in recent years, even using armed guards to protect the faithful (Associated Press)
- Church security can be tricky | Some already employ armed, professional security officers, while others rely on volunteer church members (The Gazette)
- At a glance: violence at churches (The Denver Post)
From our sister publications:
- Leader's Insight: Security Against Shooters | A police officer's advice on how to prevent, or react to, a gunman at church. (Leadership, June 11, 2007)