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Sunday horror: Church shootings in Colorado; gunman killed by armed female church security staffer; Update: Church volunteer rushed toward the gunman; victims ID’d; Who is the shooter?; Gunman reportedly ID’d; Update: Gunman reportedly “hated Christians;” Update: The hero is Jeanne Assam; Vietnam vet parishioner assisted

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 9, 2007 08:55 PM

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Via 7News Denver

Update 12/10 7:30pm Eastern. A hero revealed:

Jeanne Assam appeared before the news media for the first time Monday and said she “did not think for a minute to run away” when a gunman entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and started shooting.

Assam appeared before the media with applause and said “God guided me and protected me.”

She described how the gunman, Matthew Murray, entered the east entrance of the church firing his gun. “There was chaos,” Assam said, as parishioners ran away. “I saw him coming through the doors” and took cover, Assam said. “I came out of cover and identified myself and engaged him and took him down.”

Assam had several years of experience in law enforcement and is licensed to carry a weapon. She attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during another service.

“I give credit to God,” Assam said. “God was with me. I didn’t think for a minute to run away.”

Assam was assisted by a fellow churchgoer, Vietnam Veteran (via the Denver Post):

Larry Bourbonnais, a combat-tested Vietnam veteran, said it was the bravest thing he’s ever seen.

Bourbonnais, who was among those shot by a gunman Sunday at New Life Church, watched as a security guard, a woman later identified as Jeanne Assam, calmly returned fire and killed the shooter.

“She just started walking toward the gunman firing the whole way,” said Bourbonnais, who was shot in the arm. “She was just yelling ‘Surrender,’ walking and shooting the whole time.”

Read the whole thing.

Update 12/10 6:00pm Eastern. More details about the vengeful gunman:

The gunman believed to have killed four people at a megachurch and a missionary training school had been thrown out of the school about three years ago and had been sending hate mail to the program, police said in court papers Monday. The gunman was identified as Matthew Murray, 24, who was home-schooled by his family and raised in what a friend said was a deeply religious Christian household. Murray’s father is a neurologist and a prominent multiple-sclerosis researcher.

Update 12/10 5:03pm Eastern. The gunman “hated Christians?” Officials did not identify Matthew Murray’s own religion yet.

John Hinderaker: “It is perhaps worth noting that the toll in Sunday’s shootings exceeded the combined total in all “hate crimes” against Muslims in the six years since September 11.”

Update 12/10 2:20pm Eastern. 9News ID’s the alleged gunman

The identity of the gunman in the shooting at a 10,000-plus member mega-church has been uncovered by 9Wants to Know.

9Wants to Know has learned 24-year-old Matthew Murray was killed after opening fire at New Life Church on Sunday.

Murray was home schooled and his last known address was at his parents’ home in unincorporated Arapahoe County – the same home investigators searched Sunday night.

Update 12/10 12:57pm Eastern. Video update on the connection between the two shootings here.

The question everyone’s asking: Who is the shooter?

We have no name, no details yet.

Update 12/10 11:05am Eastern. New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd is speaking to the media right now. He reports that the female church security guard rushed toward the gunman in the building when she heard shots ring out. She was stationed at a rotunda. She has a law enforcement background. “She probably saved a hundred lives.” They put the security/evacuation plan in place after hearing about the first church attack. Volunteers joined security details. Armed security all have licenses to carry.

Pastor Boyd: “We’re so grateful to God for giving us the wisdom to do that.”

Very sad news: Two teen victims who died in the attacks were identified this morning, via the Colorado Springs Gazette

Police identified two teenagers today who were killed in the attack on New Life Church on Sunday.

According to a statement to media outlets this morning, the dead were 18-year-old Stephanie Works and 16-year-old Rachael Works.

The other shooting victims included:

David Works, 51, who suffered two gunshot wounds to the abdomen. He was listed in fair condition at Penrose Hospital.

Judy Purcell, 40, who suffered a gunshot wound to the right shoulder. She was treated at the hospital and released.

Larry Bourbannais, 59, who suffered a gunshot wound to the left forearm. He was treated at the hospital and released.

Update 12/10 8:30am. The gunman was wearing a tactical helmet and body armor.

***
By now, you’ve read about the two tragic church shootings incidents in Colorado earlier today. What you may not have heard about is how the gunman at the second church was reportedly stopped:

A gunman killed two staff members at a missionary training center early Sunday after being told he couldn’t spend the night, and about 12 hours later four people were shot outside a megachurch in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs police Lt. Fletcher Howard said a suspect had been detained in the shootings outside the New Life Church. Authorities in Arvada, a Denver suburb about 65 miles north, said no one had been captured in the shootings there.

It was not immediately known whether the shootings were related, but Arvada authorities said they were sharing information with Colorado Springs investigators. The mission training program has a small office at the church’s World Prayer Center on the New Life campus.

Howard declined to say whether the Colorado Springs suspect had been shot. Police sealed off the church, but it was not clear whether any parishioners were still inside.

A gunman in a black trench coat and a high-powered rifle entered the church’s main foray about 1 p.m. and began shooting, according to a source who was locked down inside the New Life campus Sunday afternoon. The source spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because police asked that they release all information.

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 nursery.

The gunman was shot and killed by a female member of the church’s armed security staff, the source said.

More details:

It was not immediately known whether the shootings were related, but Arvada authorities said they were sharing information with Colorado Springs investigators. The mission training program has a small office at the church’s World Prayer Center on the New Life campus.

Gov. Bill Ritter ordered state authorities to assist in the investigation.

A gunman in a black trench coat and a high-powered rifle entered the church’s main foyer shortly after 1 p.m. and began shooting, 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 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.

The FBI and the ATF were assisting in the investigation. Officers were combing the campus looking for suspicious devices.

We had a plan in place, and it worked well,” said Boyd, who in August took over from disgraced pastor Ted Haggard. “Many, many lives were saved today because of some quick, action by the many volunteers here at the church.”

Amid the horror, a glimmer of good news: The culture of self-defense may have saved untold lives.

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