December 10, 2007
Reports Draw Connections Between Victims, Shooter
Sisters in New Life shooting were heavily involved with Youth With a Mission.
As details continue to come in about Sunday's shootings at two Colorado megachurches, connections are being drawn between the victims of the two shootings and their alleged killer.
Colorado media are reporting that Matthew Murray, 24, has been identified as the gunman in the shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Police are investigating connections between that shooting and a similar shooting earlier Sunday at the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) training facility in Arvada, on the campus of Faith Bible Chapel.
This afternoon, some new connections are emerging. The two sisters killed in the New Life Church parking lot had deep connections with the YWAM facility. The Gazette of Colorado Springs reports:
[The victims' uncle, Mark] Schaepe said family members suspect that the shooter could have targeted the girls because they were involved heavily with Youth With a Mission and had frequented the Arvada training center for the missionary group where two people were shot to death hours before the New Life attack.
The girls had gone on a mission trip to China with Youth With a Mission last year, Schaepe said.
Denver station KMGH reports that many people at the Colorado Springs church have similar connections: "There is a Youth With A Mission office on the New Life Church campus, and many members of New Life have completed the YWAM's school and discipleship programs. They have also worked together in local evangelical outreach programs."
New Life Church pastor Brady Boyd has told several news outlets that Murray was not affiliated with the congregation, and called the shooting "a senseless random attack."
"We don't know the shooter. He has no connection to our church," Boyd told The Gazette.
Cody Askeland, a neighbor of Murray, who lived with his parents, told KMGH the family is "really religious." The Denver Post reports, "An official at Colorado Christian University said the school's records show that Matthew Murray enrolled in one class last year but dropped out soon after."
CNN is running a report from an unnamed longtime member of New Life Church who said Murray "had a falling out with Youth With a Mission after working with the organization a couple of years ago and that he sent antagonistic and threatening correspondence afterward." Christianity Today reporters have not been able to confirm this report, but The Denver Post reports that YWAM "said that though Murray worked for YWAM at one time, reports that he was a member are incorrect."