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Religious Tolerance logo

Are Christians being targeted for violence?

Killings in U.S. religious centers in 2007

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Matthew Murray's mass murders:

Date Facility Location Toll Motivation/cause
2007-DEC-09 Youth With a Mission Center Arvida, CO 2 killed;
2 injured
Mental illness? Rage
2007-DEC-09 New Life Church Colorado Springs, CO 3 killed;
4 injured
Mental illness? Rage

2007-DEC-09: Youth With a Mission Center shootings, Arvida, CO:

Matthew Murray, 24, killed two and injured another two persons at the Youth with a Mission Center in Arvida, CO. He had entered the center office and asked for permission to spend the night there. He was refused, and then opened fire with a handgun.

He killed Tiffany Johnson, 26, who had traveled on missions to Egypt, Libya and South Africa with YWAM. Also killed was Philip Crouse, 24. He had helped build a foster home at a Crow reservation in Montana. Staff members Dan Griebenow, 24, and Charlie Blanch, 22, were wounded. 1

After the shootings at the Center, Murray headed south to Colorado Springs. He posted a message on the AFP forum at 11:03 AM between the two attacks. He used the name "nghtmrchld26."

"You Christians brought this on yourselves. "I'm coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill."

He copied these words verbatim from the message that Eric Harris used just before he and Dylan Klebold massacred students at Columbine High School in 1999.

Murray also wrote:

"God, I can't wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don't care if I live or die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you ... as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world." 2

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2007-DEC-09: New Life Church shootings at Colorado Springs, CO:

New Life is a charismatic mega-church about 70 miles (110 km) south of Arvida, CO. It is Colorado's largest church with about 10,000 members. New Life was founded by Ted Haggard who was fired in 2006 after admitting that some allegations of sexual activities with a male prostitute were true.

Murray arrived during the second morning service with an assault rifle, handguns and a thousand rounds of ammunition. He killed two sisters Rachel, 16, and Stephanie Works, 18 in the parking lot. One had just returned from an overseas mission trip. He injured church members David Works, Judy Purcell and Larry Bourbannais. 1

Jeanne Assam, 42, a volunteer security guard had attended the church's early service at 9 AM and stood watch in the rotunda as the second service was getting out. She is one of a group of armed security personnel with a police force or military background. She shot Murray multiple times. He fell to the ground and then killed himself with a single round. Assam said that she prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide her and that her hands did not shake. She said: "It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God."

All of the four wounded members recovered. Trauma counseling was set up at Woodmen Valley Chapel for those in distress at the shootings. 3

Further information on Matthew Murray's background

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Police name shooter," My Fox Colorado, 2007-DEC-10, at: http://www.myfoxcolorado.com/
  2. Transcript of a press conference with Brady Boyd, Senior Pastor, New Life Church, 2007-DEC-10, at: http://www.newlifechurch.org/ This is a PDF file.
  3. "Reports: Colorado gunman posted anti-Christian writings," CNN, 2007-DEC-11, at: http://edition.cnn.com/

Site navigation: Home page > Religious conflicts  here

Home page > Christianity > Christian history, beliefs... > Violence > here

Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally posted: 2007-DEC-13 
Latest update: 2009-SEP-18
Author: B.A. Robinson

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