18. Eyewitness account of Omaha mall shooting
"Yes, a perfect shot. I had a full side profile, I was close, and no
one was visible behind him execept a wall. I had a clear shot during
the second round of fire...When I realized that I had no gun, fear
instantly struck me, along with anger, and severe panic."
The Shack has the privilege of being able to talk with one of the
witnesses from the third floor of the Von Maur store at Westroads Mall
On the condition of anonymity, he has agreed to tell his account of
what happened. He will only be identified by the moniker NWJT.
I was given the first draft of this account Thursday morning, 12/6/07.
The only changes that have been made were mostly grammatical and
organizational. NWJT's account has not changed. He has opted to leave
any inaccuracies (such as the gun identification) as it was originally
written in order to properly show how the mind works in this condition.
I have agreed to post his story account as is, with only minor edits
for spelling and grammar. The bulk of this was written about 14 hours
after the event occurred. There is an update at the end.
His story presents an interesting issue for CCW holders in such a
situation: Shoot or no shoot. Hide or flee. Help or don't help.
Please look at the post after this account as I have put up a practice
drill (The Von Maur Drill) that is designed based on this man's
With that, I now turn the blog over to NW.
I took a later lunch that day because I had a noon phone meeting with
a company out of New York, apparently we're not on the same lunch
schedule. I also planned to take a one-hour lunch that day, instead of
a 30-minute lunch, so I could go to Van Maur and pick up some gifts
for my wife. We were both there on the evening of Dec 03 with my 1-
year-old daughter, and my wife tried on some coats and showed me some
bath robes she liked, so I knew exactly what I was going for that day.
I asked a co-worker (named K for this story) for directions to Van
Maur from my place of business, as she knew a faster route that would
get me there quicker.
I left work around 1:15 to 1:20 and arrived at the front doors of Van
Maur at 1:35 (shooting -7), I remember specifically looking at my
watch as walked in. I came in the south entrance to Van Maur, right by
I proceeded to 2nd floor using the escalator around 1:36 (shooting -6
minutes). I soon picked up a coat that my wife liked. I spent a couple
minutes there because I was still not completely sure about picking
the white coat or black coat. I checked my watch and realized time was
running out, so I picked the white one. This was about 1:39 (shooting
Then I again took the escalator to the third floor.I went over to the
bath robes near the bra section, which is by customer service. I was
standing close to the north wall, by the east corner. I walked around
the robes a bit to see if there were any last minute changes about
what I wanted to get, then I proceeded to the rack of robes that my
wife had expressed interest in.
At this point I don't have a time line, but the events unfolded follows:
I heard gunshots, about 8. I knew exactly what they were, but my brain
didn't want me to believe it.
I looked towards the escalators because it sounded like they came from
there. I could not place the direction the shots came from because I
was surrounded by 4 walls and standing nearly in a corner.
I stood there for maybe 8 seconds (time enough to change a magazine),
then I heard several more shots. Somehow, then I focused in on the
shooter. He was towards the south wall, in the east corner, maybe 30
degrees to my left. He was about 30 yards away. He was shooting
towards the west and I had a nice side view of him.
He was wearing what looked like a solid green sleeveless vest, and was
shooting a semi-automatic rifle. I could see sleeves of a shirt that
did not match the vest. The vest did not look military or camouflage,
but to me looked green.
To me, at the time, I thought the rifle might be an AR15. One thing I
noticed, it appeared that the empty shells were ejecting out of the
left side of the gun instead of the right, which doesn't make sense
and could of been an illusion. All I could see were mostly the black
parts of the gun. The stock of the gun was the black frame style,
instead of a wood stock.
The shooter had brown or black hair, and I remember it being cut quite
Short, but not buzzed. He had the gun up to his cheek and was shooting
in rapid succession doing quick maneuvers with the gun. At first, it
went through my mind that this guy was some sort of military and this
was a terrorist attack. I could see the shells ejecting from the gun.
The way he was walking and shooting, calmly, no yelling, made me think
that there was more than one shooter and they were performing a "clean
sweep". He was aiming down the barrel of the gun, and shooting rapidly.
At this point, I stared for nearly 5 seconds, until I turned and
ducked down and started running. I want to make note of this point in
time, as I will come back to it.
I was running towards the north wall and somehow making my way farther
towards the east wall at the same time, putting myself in the corner
even more. There were maybe five people who started walking fast
looking in the direction of the shooter. I am not sure if they could
see him or just heard the commotion. When they saw that I was running
like heck, others started running, too.
People were running into the dressing rooms. I got near the door and
decided that is not where I wanted to be. I ran west a few yards
uncertain of what to do or where to go. I was trapped. But then I
focused in on an emergency exit and ran out of it. The alarm sounded.
It was loud, but I think it was only an alarm attached to the door,
not sure if it set the whole store alarms off, but they were loud,
shrieking alarms, not continuous, but a pulse type alarm.
I ended up in some gray hallway with a set of stairs and very little
room to move side to side. I ran down one set of stairs to 2nd floor.
There was a door there and I almost went through it. But I heard more
gunshots that sounded like they were on the other side of the door. I
believe I turned and I jumped over the stair railing to the next
landing, skipping the stairs completely. I do not remember the impact,
and I do not remember if I jumped down a whole floor, or ran down the
first half of the stairs and jumped down the rest. I am not certain of
this point due to the fear I felt at this point after hearing more
gunshots I thought was on 2nd floor, confirming in my mind there were
I ran down a small hallway and found a door to the outside, but it
would not open. It was a double door with a push bar. At this point, I
had to make a decision. Do I wait here or get out?
I didn't know what or who was on the other side of the door, and but I
decided to go for it because I was trapped at the end of a hallway
with no where to go. I pushed the door hard and it still would not
give, so I kicked the push bar and the door flung open.
I was now outside, on Van Maur's loading dock on the east side, I
looked to my right and there was a long trash can close to the wall. I
jumped over a rail, off the dock between the garbage can and the wall.
I ran along this until I came to the end of both the garbage can and
wall. I then realized that I was still carrying the coat I was going
to by my wife. For some reason, I decided to drop it, and probably
Then I ran out into the parking lot, which is between the mall and the
parking garage. I didn't know what to do next. I tried to call 911 on
my phone with no luck. I yelled to some guy to call 911. Then I asked
him if he had a gun I could use. I was freaking out, and in reality
probably would not have gone back in. However, I was worried about
someone picking off people in the lot, or coming out charging with
guns firing. I had no idea how many shooters were in there.
I borrowed a lady's cell phone, and she was worried I was going to run
off with it. But 911 was busy, so I knew people were probably called.
It took FOREVER for the cops to get there, I estimated the time as 10
minutes but the news says 6.
During this time I did not know what to do. I almost just went for my
car and left, but I realized that couldn't be right. It was like
someone pulled a fire alarm at the store, so I thought about just
leaving and let everyone else figure it out. I decided that was the
wrong thing to do..
I walked around to the north side and saw all the cops loading up. I
yelled to them, "I saw what is going on. The guy has an M-16 type gun.
If you need information, I can give it or else I am outta here." A
police lieutenant pulled me aside and I ended up in a cop car.
Minutes later another witness joined me. She said she was right beside
me on the 3rd floor before the shooting. We were both very shaken up.
My lungs were burning because I nearly did a full sprint down 3
floors. The cold air hit my lungs hard.
I was later taken to J.C. Penney and interviewed. At first, the
interviewer was taking notes, but when he realized how involved I was
I had start over, this time with a tape recorder running
I was then escorted to my car and I stopped back by work. I arrived at
work around 4pm, which means my interview ended around 3:30 - 3:45.
When I heard the first round of gunshots, I knew what they were but
didn't want to believe it. I tried to think that they were balloons or
fireworks. However, I definitely took a defensive stance ready to run.
When I saw the shooter, I stood there for nearly 5 seconds just
First, he was firing 90 degrees away from me. The thing is, this image
was nothing new to me. I see people shooting all the time at the
range, on TV, in video games. But what my brain was having a hard time
processing was that was Van Maur.
Now back to the point I referenced earlier.
Honestly, and as God as my witness, when I saw him shooting and as
watched for a few seconds trying to figure out what he was going to do
and what I should do, the thought that when through my mind was, "If I
had a gun, I have a perfect shot."
Yes, a perfect shot. I had a full side profile, I was close, and no
one was visible behind him except a wall. I had a clear shot during
the second round of fire. I told this to every cop I came in contact
with. The interviewer agreed.
When I realized that I had no gun, fear instantly struck me, along
with anger, and severe panic.
I ran hard.
I did not think to try to help people, I just got out.
While I was running, I kept hearing shots. In my mind, I could see
myself getting shot in the back, bullets ripping through me and blood
spraying in front of me.
Interestingly, I was still able to make decisions. I knew the dressing
room was a bad place. When I realized I was trapped in a corner, more
fear set in and I almost went for the dressing room, but then I saw
the emergency exit.
I instantly started second-guessing that decision as well. For all I
knew, there were more shooters waiting for people to try to escape.
But realizing that I was wide open to attack, I ran out the emergency
As I ran down the stairs, all kinds of thoughts started occurring.
What if a shooter was coming up the stairs? What if one followed me
down? Every decision I made was second-guessed, should I just stop or
I kept going, and due to luck, I was fine. There was only one shooter,
and he did not set any boobytraps.
That's all. My decisions were fairly limited and all I could do is go
where the doors and hallways took me.
After my interview, as I was being escorted by the cops to my car, I
saw the nice, white coat still there by the garbage can. I pointed it
out to my interviewer who was escorting me, hoping maybe he'd let me
go pick it up to possibly save it. But, it was a lost cause. I would
have gone back later and paid for it.
This part of the story may be removed later, but I will have it here
I do not have a Concealed Handgun Permit. I have completed the
training class, but I keep putting off applying for the permit because
I think it is useless. In the places I would need a gun most, I am not
allowed to have it. I will not be a person living in fear and not go
to Van Maur because they don't allow guns.
My point that Open Carry needs to be easier in Omaha, and places like
Westroads need to take down their "no guns" signs.
If I had my gun deeply concealed, I wouldn't have been able to draw it
very fast. However, If I had open carried, I could of drawn instantly.
Either way though, I could have drawn and taken a clean shot. However,
in both cases, regardless of the laws, I am not allowed to carry a gun
at all in Westroads Mall. If the laws did not oppress my rights, I
would carry a gun most places (except work). I would certainly have
had it in the mall as mall shootings have been on my mind since the
incident at a mall involving a shotgun back in February.
My wife is somewhat cautious about guns as is my sister-in-law. After
this event, both are now pro-guns. In addition, I will never again be
caught without a gun.
I later learned from the news that people were shot at customer
service (to my right) and the children's section (in front of me, off
to the left). This means it was only luck this guy did not target me,
as I was closer to him than some of the people he shot. I have a
second chance at life.
What really irks my gut is that I was just there at Van Maur on Monday
night with my wife and daughter. What if they were with me this time?
Escape like I did would not of been possible.
I am very angry at the city of Omaha and the mall for their stupid
laws that nearly cost me my life. The laws protected no one, and in my
opinion, caused people to die.
Will I go to the media? Maybe. I can't make a decision now because I
am still shaken up. I got very little sleep last night. I need to let
my head clear. Nothing I do right now is going to change the outcome
and near brush with death.
Right now I have been practicing with my .40 S&W Beretta, replaying
the situation in my mind.
I could have done it, no problem, no hesitation, no regrets. This was
a test of my soul, and the results are in and I know them for certain.
I am going to go buy some "gear," then go to the shooting range for
some target practice.
My knee hurts and my legs and lungs still burn. I cannot recall how
high of jump I took, but I am going back to Van Maur to find out.
UPDATE 12/6/07 - I went to a local shooting range and purchased
several silhouette targets. I then put the targets down range, to the
approximate place I think the shooter would have been.
It seems it may be between 40 and 50 meters based on my memory. I used
my Beretta 90-Two (.40 S&W) and shot each target several times with 6
round magazines. I mostly aimed for the head because that is probably
what I would have done in the mall, as I didn't know if he was wearing
a vest or not.
My accuracy to the head was about 4 out of 6, depending on how fast I
fired. For the shots I missed the head, they still hit the neck or the
chest. A few test cases, I missed the head by an inch. I would of been
shooting up at a slight angle so the missed shots would of went higher
than most people stand.
I then took body shots and my accuracy was near 100% on the target,
though not necessarily in the kill zone. I conclude I could have taken
the shots with decent accuracy and been effective. I cannot predict
the outcome, except that I would of rather been shooting at the
killer, instead of crossing my fingers, turning my back, and running
away. Even if I only wounded him, I could of run in closer for more
accuracy. Call me crazy, it may be true, but running away like I did
was more crazy and more risky with my life. I just got lucky.
I do want to say that when I talk about that I could of stopped the
killer, I am not trying to make a political statement. I am simply
saying if I were allowed to carry a gun, I would have and I would have
That is a hard fact. I am not trying to be a hero and say that I would
have tried to save lives. I am saying that I was trying to save my
life, and if my family was there, their lives as well. There is
nothing "hero" about what I am saying, it's about survival.
I feel that I am alive today because of luck. I chose to run, but it
was not a choice. I was forced to run. Many will say that is the right
choice. I say it is the choice that requires luck. A LOT of luck with
the position I was in.
Use of deadly force at times may also require luck. But, it also
depends upon skill, awareness, and practice. These are things I can
control, and these are things I trust far more than luck
The statements I am making today are my own, and represent my personal
views and my views alone. It may or may not be the views of my family,
friends, employer, other professional affiliates, or anyone or thing
affiliated with me in any way of form other than myself.
19. Staying safe while you shop -- no answers here
VA-ALERT editor Paul Kent writes:
In the wake of two mall shootings in Virginia (before the recent
shooting in Omaha, Nebraska), the Hampton Roads, VA-area NBC affiliate
WAVY TV 10 aired a piece on shopper safety in local malls. This is
classic -- silence speaks volumes.
The reporter commented briefly on the woman shot while being mugged at
Patrick Henry Mall (VCDL UPDATE 12/12/07), saying that "no mall
security was around." The station asked the security departments of
six local malls to comment on the topic, and none would! Only one
would even return the reporter's phone call, even though the reporter
prefaced her piece by saying that normally, mall security staff have
no problem talking on camera.
The reporter was left talking to a couple of shoppers who wondered
aloud why the mall security department wouldn't tell them how they
were going to keep shoppers safe. In the second video, police
essentially say to bluff potential attackers and don't carry large
amounts of cash; and in any event, you're on your own.
The Patrick Henry Mall victim was in a well-lit area with plenty of
other people around. In short, she had done everything the mall
recommends. Isn't this a problem we've cited for a decade or more?
Most malls are victim-disarmament zones -- an invitation to criminals
who laughingly ignore the 'No Guns' signs.
To view the videos, click the link below and scroll down in the media
player to find two related reports titled "Staying safe while you shop":
20. Why would you need a gun in a church?
December 11, 2007
Police Tie Colorado Church Shootings to One Gunman
By KIRK JOHNSON and DAN FROSCH
COLORADO SPRINGS, Dec. 10 -- Two deadly church shootings in Colorado
over the weekend, 12 hours apart in different cities, were committed
by the same man, though his motives remain unclear, the police said
Five people were killed, including the gunman, identified as Matthew
Murray, 24, of Englewood, who was shot by a volunteer security guard
during the second incident, at the New Life Church here.
The guard, Jeanne Assam, a church member with police experience and a
pistol permit, said she took cover as Mr. Murray began his rampage at
New Life, a 14,000-member evangelical megachurch, at about 1 p.m.
Sunday, while hundreds of worshipers were leaving after the 11 a.m.
Ms. Assam said she leaped up and identified herself, and when Mr.
Murray did not respond, opened fire. She said she had been on the
third day of a three-day fast, praying to God to provide direction for
"I knew I was given the assignment to end this," Ms. Assam said at a
news conference Monday at the Colorado Springs Police Operations
Center. "I give the credit to God."
Officials said they were still investigating whether Ms. Assam's shot
killed Mr. Murray or whether it might have been a self-inflicted wound.
Two sisters were killed in the parking lot at New Life. Police
identified them as Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, both of
Denver. Their father, David Works, 51, was wounded and was in stable
condition late Monday, the police said.
Two other people at the church had minor wounds.
The first shooting, just after midnight at the Youth With a Mission
Center in Arvada, near Denver, killed Tiffany Johnson, 26, from
Minnesota, the center's hospitality director, and Philip Crouse, 24,
of Alaska, who was training to be a missionary. Two other people there
were wounded; one remained in critical condition Monday.
Sgt. Jeff Jensen of the Colorado Springs Police Department said
weapons recovered here allowed for a positive ballistics match with
rounds fired in Arvada. He added a search of Mr. Murray's home also
produced further evidence, which he declined to specify.
Mr. Murray was associated with the Youth With a Mission Center in
2002, but Arvada police said any links to the New Life Church were
still being investigated.
Sergeant Jensen said two assault rifles and three handguns were
recovered, as was a backpack stuffed with 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
On Monday, the scene at the Youth With a Mission complex in Arvada was
ghostlike, as the snow-covered property was cordoned off with police
tape. The campus's 80 members have been taken to another site operated
by the group in nearby Golden, mission officials said.
Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission in Denver, said Mr.
Murray was active with the center five years ago but could not
continue in the training programs because of "issues related to his
health." Asked to comment on news reports that Mr. Murray had sent
threatening letters to the center, a police official would say only
that Mr. Murray had expressed "discontent."
Pastor Phil Abeyta, an uncle to Mr. Murray, read a statement on behalf
of the Murray family at the news conference.
"We cannot express the magnitude of our grief for the victims," Mr.
Abeyta said, his voice shaking. "We ask for forgiveness. We cannot
understand why this has happened."
Neighbors whose homes abut the center or the sprawling Faith Bible
Chapel campus nearby were in shock.
"It brought me to tears, how horrible this is," said Mimi Martin, who
lives down the block from the center.
Friends of the victims described Ms. Johnson and Mr. Crouse as devoted
Christians who had joined the center because of an intense belief in
Church members at New Life said the Works family members were getting
into a car in the parking lot when Mr. Murray opened fire.
The teenage sisters were involved with a Youth With A Mission program,
the center said in a statement Monday.
Stephanie Works had gone on a mission last year in Asia, said her
aunt, Anita Schaepe, of Lincoln, Neb. Rachael Works went on a mission
to Brazil last year, Ms. Schaepe said.
At New Life, some members said the congregation's travails over the
last year had toughened the church. In November 2006, the former
senior pastor, Ted Haggard, a prominent author and national
evangelical leader, was dismissed for "sexually immoral conduct" for
his relationship with a male prostitute.
"I feel like we've been battle-hardened," said Justin Spicer, an
associate pastor at the church. "But this is worse -- an incredible
violation and a painful one."
Kirk Johnson reported from Colorado Springs, and Dan Frosch from
Englewood, Colo. Jeff Kass contributed reporting from Denver.
21. 'Dirty Harriet' saves the day in Colorado
A Dirty Harriet Saves Day In Colorado
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2007 4:20
Second Amendment: As the Supreme Court ponders what the Constitution
means, a volunteer security guard in Colorado shows that the problem
with society may not be who has guns, but who doesn't.
Every time there are multiple shootings, like those that occurred over
the weekend at the Youth With A Mission missionary training center in
Arvada, Colo., and later at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs,
we are lectured about the easy access to firearms in the U.S. and the
dangers it creates.
But many are thankful today that Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security
guard at New Life, had easy access to a gun when Matthew Murray
entered the east entrance of the church and began firing his rifle.
Murray was carrying two handguns, an assault rifle and more than 1,000
rounds of ammunition.
If Jeanne Assam had not had a gun at her side, dozens more might have
died in Sunday's shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
If Jeanne Assam had not had a gun at her side, dozens more might have
died in Sunday's shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
Assam, who worked as a police officer in downtown Minneapolis in the
1990s and is licensed to carry a weapon, shot Murray. Had she not done
so, more than two would have been killed at the church that day. Two
others had been killed by Murray at Arvada. New Life's senior pastor
Brady Boyd said Assam's actions saved the lives of 50 to 100 people.
Last February, another disturbed young man from war-torn Bosnia
entered the Trolley Square Mall in Ogden, Utah, and began shooting,
killing five people. Utah is a right-to-carry (RTC) state but lets
property owners post signs proclaiming an exception on their premises.
A sign posted in the mall reminded people that concealed carry permit
holders could not bring their weapons inside. Trolley Square was a gun-
free zone, except for predators. Fortunately, inside the mall was an
off-duty Ogden police officer, who was carrying a concealed weapon in
violation of the law, and was the first to trade shots with the
gunman. He is credited with preventing the murder of more innocent
Unfortunately, he was at the opposite end of the mall and on another
floor when the shooting started. If concealed carry permit holders
were allowed to take their firearms into the mall, maybe those five
could have been spared or even defended themselves.
Gun-control advocates argue that allowing people to carry guns
encourages their reckless use.
But despite dire warnings by RTC critics, neighbors aren't routinely
offing neighbors and bodies aren't piling up like cordwood across
America in one huge Gunfight at the OK Corral.
Since 1991, according to NRAILA.org, 23 more states have adopted RTC
laws for a total of 40. The number of privately owned firearms has
risen by nearly 70 million and violent crime is down 38%. In 2005, RTC
states had, on average, a 22% lower violent crime rate, 30% lower
murder rate, 46% lower robbery rate and 12% lower aggravated assault
Like Trolley Square, Westroads Mall in Omaha, Neb., where eight people
were gunned down recently was also a gun-free zone. So was Virginia
Tech, where a gunmen killed 32 people in two attacks hours apart.
This Colorado incident comes as the Supreme Court hears an appeal of a
ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Parker v.
District of Columbia. The ruling struck down D.C.'s draconian ban on
the private ownership of firearms as a violation of the Second
Amendment's right to keep and bear arms.
The D.C. court ruled, among other findings, that the Second
Amendment's placement high in the Bill of Rights makes it, and the
right to self-defense, along with speech and religion, etc., an
We think Jeanne Assam and the people she saved would agree.
22. Permit holder who stopped church shooter credits God
Security guard who stopped shooter credits God
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) -- "It seemed like it was me, the
gunman, and God," said Jeanne Assam, describing her feelings as she
confronted a man who charged into her Colorado Springs church Sunday
firing a weapon.
Assam, a church security guard with law enforcement experience, fired
her own weapon at the invader and stopped his attack, police say.
Police on Monday identified the gunman as Matthew Murray and said he
was also responsible for an attack earlier Sunday at a missionary
center some 80 miles away.
The two incidents left four people dead, in addition to the gunman,
and five wounded.
Police said forensic evidence showed a positive match between a
handgun found at the church and shell casings found at the missionary
center in Arvada, a suburb of Denver.
Officials from the Colorado Springs and Arvada police departments
appeared at a joint news conference to brief reporters on what they
had pieced together about Sunday's events.
The first incident took place Sunday at about 12:30 a.m. at Youth With
a Mission in Arvada.
Police said a man with a beard, wearing a dark jacket, glasses, and
skullcap, entered the facility, got into a dispute with a staff member
about whether he could stay there for the night, and then opened fire.
Two staff members, Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, died
later Sunday from their injuries, Youth With a Mission co-founder
Peter Warren said. Two other staff members were injured, and one was
in critical condition.
Investigators tried to track the gunman through fresh snow with the
help of dogs, but lost his trail in a heavily walked area, Deputy
Chief Gary Creager of Arvada police said.
About 12 hours later, police say, Murray showed up at New Life Church
as a service was letting out.
Police said Monday he had an assault rifle and two handguns, and may
have had as many as 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
He fired on a family who were in or near their car. Two sisters,
identified by police as Rachael Works, 16, and Stephanie Works, 18,
were killed, and their father, David Works, 51, was also shot and is
hospitalized in fair condition with two gunshot wounds.
Murray then entered the church, police say, where Assam was one of
several volunteer security guards on duty.
"I saw him coming through the doors," she told reporters on Monday. "I
took cover, and I waited for him to get closer, and I came out of
cover and identified myself, and engaged him, and took him down. And
that's pretty much it." VideoWatch Assam tell how she stopped Murray "
Police said they were still investigating whether Assam's weapon
killed Murray, or whether he might have died of a self-inflicted
Assam extended her sympathy to the families of the victims "and of the
gunman -- and I mean that very sincerely."
Phil Abeyta, who identified himself as Murray's uncle, appeared at
another news conference and read a statement from the family asking
"Our family cannot express the magnitude of our grief for the victims
and families of this tragedy," he said. "On behalf of our family and
our son, we ask for forgiveness. We cannot understand why this has
Abeyta appeared with spokesmen from the Youth With A Mission center,
who confirmed that Murray had been part of a training program five
Peter Warren, director of Youth With A Mission, said Murray did not go
on the mission he was training for in 2002 because managers thought
that "issues relating to his health made it unsafe for him to do so."
But a man who served at the center with Murray told CNN Monday that
Murray was kicked out of the mission program for strange behavior.
VideoWatch more about Matthew Murray's background "
A source -- a long-time member of New Life Church -- said Murray had a
falling out with Youth With A Mission after working with the
organization a couple of years ago. The source said Murray sent
antagonistic and threatening correspondence afterward.
Earlier Monday, Boyd said the gunman was unknown to parishioners there.
"He simply showed up on our property yesterday with a gun, with the
intention of hurting people, and he did," Boyd said.
Boyd said the megachurch instituted security precautions after the
shootings at the Denver area mission center.
Boyd said Assam was a hero in preventing further bloodshed, rushing to
confront the gunman just inside the church. "She probably saved over a
hundred lives," Boyd said. VideoWatch pastor tell how guard saved
"I give the credit to God. And I say that very humbly. God was with me
and the whole time I was behind cover -- this has got to be God,
because of the firepower that [the gunman] had vs. what I had," Assam
"I did not run away and I didn't think for a minute to run away, I
just knew that I was given the assignment to end this before it got
too much worse. I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me."
She told reporters she had not slept since the shooting, "as I'm sure
you can tell."
She said she was on the third day of a three-day regimen of fasting
and prayer, wanting to know God's will for what to do with her life,
when the shooting took place.
"I was weak, and where I was weak, God made me strong," she said. "He
filled me and he guided me and protected me and many other people. And
I'm honored that God chose me."
Assam was one of about a dozen volunteer security guards at the
church, half of whom are armed, Boyd said. The guards are licensed,
trained and screened, and are church members, not "mercenaries," he
23. Police: Church gunman killed himself
Technically, the Colorado mass murderer killed himself. But he did
that because a CHP holder had stopped him from continuing his rampage.
Assam is a hero. Whether Murray lived, was killed by Assam, or died
by his own hand makes no difference to that fact.
Police: Church Gunman Killed Himself
Dec 11 03:47 PM US/Eastern
By JUDITH KOHLER
Associated Press Writer
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - The man who killed four people at a
church and missionary training center died of a self-inflicted shotgun
wound, police said Tuesday.
Matthew Murray, 24, was struck multiple times by a security officer at
New Life Church Sunday but died after firing a single shot at himself,
the El Paso County Coroner's Office concluded after an autopsy.
Volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam shot Murray after he entered the
church. Investigators had earlier suggested his death could have been
a suicide, but credited Assam's bravery with averting a greater tragedy.
Assam, a 42-year-old former Minneapolis police officer, said her faith
allowed her to remain steady under pressure.
"It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," she said, her hands
trembling as she recounted the shooting during a news conference.
The first attack Sunday took place at Youth With a Mission, a training
center for missionaries in the Denver suburb of Arvada; the other
occurred about 12 hours later at the New Life Church in Colorado
Officials said revenge was one apparent motive for the attacks. Police
said Murray had sent hate mail to the Youth With a Mission center in
the last few weeks after being removed from the program years ago.
In a statement, the training center said health problems kept Murray
from finishing the program, but elaborated little. Murray did not
complete the lecture phase or a field assignment as part of a 12-week
program, Youth With a Mission said.
Authorities also believe he authored an anti-Christian diatribe online
that closely repeated a rant by one of the Columbine killers, a
newspaper reported Tuesday.
The most recent post to the site, a forum for people who have left
evangelical religious groups, was Sunday morning in the hours between
his attacks in Arvada and Colorado Springs, according to KUSA-TV in
Denver, which first reported on the writings.
"You Christians brought this on yourselves," Murray wrote, according
to the station, which did not identify the site. "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."
The language in the post is almost identical to the text of a
manifesto written by Eric Harris, one of the teens who carried out the
1999 massacre at Columbine High School, The Denver Post reported.
The station said Murray's posts were removed from the site after
Sunday's killings, and that authorities were aware of them and
investigating. Police in Colorado Springs and Arvada would not comment
on the writings.
In a search warrant affidavit, investigators said Murray attended a
home-based computer school and worked at his computer for three to
five hours a day for the past two years. Police said Murray's only
previous brush with the law was a traffic ticket earlier this year.
His relatives said they were grief-stricken and baffled.
"We cannot understand why this has happened. We ask for prayer for the
victims and their families during this time of grief," said Phil
Abeyta, Murray's uncle, who read a statement from the family Monday.
Also Tuesday, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said Assam was
fired from the Minneapolis force in 1997 for lying during an internal
investigation. Sgt. John Delmonico, president of the Police Officers
Federation of Minneapolis, said police were investigating a complaint
that Assam swore at a bus driver while she was handling an incident on
a city bus.
24. Smear campaign against CO church permit holder underway
VCDL EM Hal Macklin writes:
The media are so hateful of gun owners, they will gleefully dig up
anything to discredit an act of heroism. Pastor Boyd stands with
Jeanne Assam, especially when the going gets tougher.
Guard who shot Colorado gunman had been fired from Mpls. force
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The security guard credited with bravery for shooting
a gunman at a Colorado church was fired from her job as a Minneapolis
police officer in the 1990s for lying, Minneapolis police officials
But that didn't bother officials at New Life Church. Pastor Brady Boyd
said Jeanne Assam's license to carry a gun, and to work at other
police departments, persuaded leaders to allow her to serve on a
voluntary security detail at the Colorado Springs church.
Investigators in Colorado said Assam confronted 24-year-old Matthew
Murray after he began firing. Murray killed two sisters Stephanie
Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16 before he died.
His death was ruled a suicide, but authorities and church leaders say
Assam's courage on Sunday may have averted a greater tragedy. She shot
him several times.
"She is a fairly new believer in Christ," Boyd said of Assam and her
background in Minneapolis. "If you go back in any of our pasts, you
can dig up something on any of us. She admittedly made lots of bad
decisions, but only in the past few months did she become a devoted
follower of Christ. Her life has changed. She was let go, but that
happens every day to good people."
"I don't want her to be convicted or crucified for being a heroine.
That's why a lot of people don't get involved for the scrutiny after
the fact. She did the right thing at the right time."
"What she did was unbelievable," her brother, Sam Assam, said Tuesday.
"Jeanne is very quick of mind and of wit, I might add too. Does it
surprise me that she can handle herself in a crisis? No," he said.
"She's always been like that. ... But this is off the charts ... an
incredibly brave act."
Jeanne Assam, 42, grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Sam Assam said his sister has been in Colorado for about eight years.
He said she is religious, adding that her faith has grown dramatically
over the past few years. He also said she likes helping people and is
a "super athlete" who participated on the track team at Hamline
On Tuesday, authorities in Minneapolis revealed more about Jeanne
Sgt. Jesse Garcia, a Minneapolis police spokesman, said Jeanne Assam
worked at the department from March 1993 to November 1997. She was
fired for lying during an internal investigation. Sgt. John Delmonico,
president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said
police were investigating a complaint that Assam swore at a bus driver
while she was handling an incident on a city bus.
"In giving a statement about the incident, she was untruthful and she
was fired," Delmonico said. The swearing was caught on tape, he said.
"The union arbitrated the case and the arbitrator upheld the
Jeanne Assam's home phone number is unlisted and she couldn't be
reached for comment Tuesday.
Sam Assam didn't want to comment on the incident, saying it happened
10 years ago.
Other personnel records about Jeanne Assam's time in Minneapolis, such
as commendations or disciplinary actions, have been destroyed because
she worked at the Minneapolis Police Department so long ago, Garcia
said. Such records are destroyed after seven years.
AP Religion Writer Eric Gorski contributed to this report from Denver.
25. CO church killer acquired guns and ammo 'by the book'
What, the guns weren't purchased at an evil gun show, using the non-
existent "gun show loophole" ??!!!??
Well, facts don't tend to dissuade anti-gunners, so I expect they will
be calling for that "loophole" to be closed anyway.
Gunman legally amassed weaponry in year's time
By Jeremy P. Meyer
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 12/13/2007 01:08:13 AM MST
For more than a year, Matthew Murray amassed the weapons and
ammunition he used in Sunday's attacks on two religious organizations
that left four young people dead.
Murray, 24, began buying weapons in November 2006 from Front Range gun
and sporting-goods stores, according to Colorado Springs police, who
had the weapons traced by federal authorities.
A large shipment of ammunition was sent to Murray's post office box in
Greenwood Village. The shipment was delivered to him but only after
authorities had been alerted and determined he could legally possess it.
"Everything was by the book," said a clerk at Robert's Firearms in
Aurora who on Nov. 17, 2006, sold Murray his first piece of weaponry,
an AK-47 assault rifle, which was found in Murray's car Sunday.
"Nothing stood out." The clerk refused to give his name.
Murray was required to pass criminal-background checks before each
purchase. In each case, he was cleared and was legally allowed to own
Murray bought another assault rifle and three semiautomatic handguns
at Sportsman's Warehouse stores in Aurora and Colorado Springs and
Dave's Gun Store in Denver. His total purchases might have cost him
close to $2,000, based on a survey of retail prices.
"We're fully cooperating with the authorities investigating this
horrible tragedy," said Matt French, vice president of hunting
operations with Sportsman's Warehouse. "We have no more comment."
As Murray was purchasing weapons, he was also logging onto various
Internet sites and writing down his thoughts, feelings and experiences
using different monikers that over time began to reveal a man who was
steadily growing more disturbed.
Details from Murray's online postings continued to be revealed
Wednesday, the same day his victims in Colorado Springs and Arvada
In many postings, the person purported to be Murray revealed that he
had problems with the two religious organizations in the past --
getting kicked out of Youth With a Mission in Arvada and getting into
a confrontation with two staffers at New Life Church in Colorado
Police and bloggers have been using Murray's online postings to
attempt to understand what led to the shooting deaths of Tiffany
Johnson and Philip Crouse in the Youth With a Mission dormitory and
the slaying of teenage sisters Rachel and Stephanie Works at New Life
"He really spiraled," said Daniel DiRito, whose blog
thoughttheater.com has been compiling what are believed to be Murray's
postings. "I always want to understand people. This is someone who is
on the edge, on the extreme of humanity. I want to understand the
Murray apparently used the screen names chrstnnghtmr, DyingChild_65
and nightmrchld26 in his posts to anti-religious sites and a
discussion forum for people contemplating suicide. Also, he apparently
had created a MySpace page, posing as "Sarah," a 23-year-old girl from
In the postings, the person believed to be Murray talks about a
restrictive Christian upbringing and complains about being rejected by
various religious groups, particularly Youth With a Mission, which
would not allow him to go on a group outreach.
In a 1,500-word message posted Sept. 4, 2006, chrstnnghtmr said he was
not allowed to go on the mission trip because he "wasn't popular and
talkative enough for missions work" and the incident caused him to
have serious doubts about his faith.
Chrstnnghtmr on the online blog Independent Spirits says in early 2004
he went to a charismatic conference at New Life Church with his mother
and her church group and "got into a debate with two prayer team staff
The staffers told the poster's mother that he "wasn't walking with the
Lord and could be planning violence," according to the online posting.
Two weeks later, chrstnnghtmr says a pastor came to his house and
searched his room for "anything evil." After he stashed video games,
DVDs and books about other religions at a friend's house, he says they
searched there too "and basically destroyed at least $900 worth of
"I wasn't involved in anything like drugs or anything like that. I
just had video games, some books about other religions, DVDs and such."
The postings allege that he suffered "physical abuse" in his home. A
spokeswoman for the Murray family said Wednesday that the parents
would not respond to questions.
"The abuse he suffered"
One regular poster to alt.suicide.holiday, Kat Lowe of Great Britain,
says she had e-mailed correspondence with DyingChild_65 for six months.
"He was always very talkative and told me all about his upbringing and
the abuse he suffered," said Lowe in an e-mail, adding that chat logs
were saved. "We have been examining the chat logs, and there are many
references to Columbine and discussion regarding obtaining guns."
According to Lowe, DyingChild_65 said "he wanted to live a normal life
but couldn't because of the way the Christian upbringing had messed
him up. (Because of his) disregard for the value of human life, I
believed him to be psychopathic."
Murray's father, Ronald S. Murray, is a well-respected neurologist,
and the family has not spoken publicly about their son or the shootings.
Through their spokesperson, however, the family released a statement
to the media Wednesday, saying they would not talk until after the
memorial services for all victims.
"We are lost in grief as we prepare to bury our beloved son, Matthew,"
according to the statement. "We loved Matthew with all our hearts, and
we are groping for answers as we try in vain to understand the events
of last Sunday. We pray that God will be with our family through the
days and weeks ahead and that He will also be with the families of
those who have died and those who were injured."
The statement says that services for Murray will be later this week
and will be private.
The family asked that any donations in their son's name be sent to
King's Kids Denver, a youth ministry program affiliated with Youth
With a Mission. The group can be reached at 7754 Holland Court,
Arvada, CO 80005.
26. LTE: When seconds count, the police are minutes away
The winning formula in use again. Short, sweet: in with a couple of
points and out with a solid sound bite. The longer your LTE, the less
chance it will get published or, if published, it may be highly
edited. Yes, it's harder to write, but it's easier to read and that's
Many experts, including police administrators, have stated that having
armed citizens confront active shooters would only make things worse.
Apparently they, along with colleges and malls, would rather protect
the shooter's life than the victims.
Now that an armed church member in Colorado has proven herself more
than capable of quickly dispatching an active shooter, that particular
question has been resolved. When seconds count, the police are minutes
Alan W. Rose
27. Strong women own guns
Short, sweet, and no pulled punches!
28. Editorial: Holstered guns in open view don't belong on campus (UT)
This is an editorial from the ostrich crowd: if I can't see a gun
that someone is carrying, then I am safe.
My suggestion to the ostriches? Just keep your eyes closed if you are
getting robbed, raped, or murdered and the danger will disappear. The
rest of us will carry a gun.
If one of us is open carrying in class? Easy, just close your eyes
and the gun will disappear. ;-)
Holstered guns in open view don't belong on campus
Article Last Updated: 12/11/2007 12:32:38 AM MST
Utah law allows students with concealed-carry permits to pack handguns
on state-owned college campuses. Some of those students are pushing
that envelope, arguing that the University of Utah cannot prohibit
them from carrying loaded firearms in plain view. The university is
pushing back, and for good reason.
Imagine you were an instructor or student in a class and someone other
than a peace officer walked in carrying a holstered handgun in plain
view. What would you do?
One instructor told us she would immediately dismiss class and tell
the students to leave.In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, that
sounds reasonable to us. If you were a student in that class, would
you stick around? We wouldn't.
That's why the university's policy prohibiting even students with
concealed-carry permits from packing in plain view makes sense. Guns
on the hips of people other than uniformed cops naturally make other
people nervous. It's tough to concentrate on a lecture or class
discussion when the kid on the next row is openly packing heat.
Debates in class sometimes become heated. An instructor cannot be
expected to teach knowing that someone in the class might pop off with
something more than a snarky comment.
The students who want to slap a sidearm on their hip should understand
that, but apparently some don't. One told a Tribune reporter that
others should not view an openly carried handgun as a menace. "I would
hope that if someone sees a gun, they would come to the rational
conclusion that if this person is intent to do harm, he wouldn't be
carrying a gun for everyone to see."
Maybe. Maybe not. If the person carrying a gun is a stranger, how can
you automatically assume he is law-abiding and has no malicious
intent? That's why cops wear uniforms and carry badges, to allay that
In the same breath, some of these gun-rights students argue that no
one other than a peace officer should be able to question them about
why they are carrying a gun. Now who's being unreasonable? The U.
should stick to its guns. No open carry on campus, with the exception
of peace officers and ROTC students in uniform.
29. Bill would let some college students tote guns (AL)
Uh-oh - there's the word 'tote' in the title. What is it with 'tote'
and 'guns?' You just don't hear that word used anywhere else and
tends to be used in articles biased against guns or gun ownership.
Bill would let some college students tote guns
Saturday, December 08, 2007
By BRIAN LYMAN
MONTGOMERY -- A state senator from Shelby County has pre-filed a bill
that would allow college students who meet certain requirements to
bring firearms on campus.
State Sen. Hank Erwin, R-Montevallo, who originally proposed the bill
in the waning days of the 2007 legislative session, said it is needed
to protect students. Similar arguments were made in other state
legislatures after a massacre at Virginia Tech earlier this year, but
critics say such proposals reflect a misunderstanding of campus safety
issues and actually could make campuses far more dangerous.
Erwin's bill as written would allow a student to carry a firearm on
campus if he or she has no prior felony or misdemeanor convictions,
secures a gun license, belongs to an ROTC program and completes a gun
The proposal would apply to public colleges and universities, not
private institutions. It does not address the issue of whether
students would be able to carry a concealed firearm or what types of
firearms -- handguns or rifles -- would be allowed. The bill does not
specify that faculty members would be permitted to carry firearms.
"I know college administrations are doing everything in the world to
make campuses safe and sound," Erwin said. "I want to make sure we
don't have any holes in the safety net. We're living in a such a
society now (that) people with evil motives can penetrate that safety
Melvin Owens, executive director of security and public safety at
Auburn University, said firearms are allowed on campus for ROTC
exercises, but are otherwise limited to law enforcement personnel.
Owens said he would be "hesitant" to allow students to carry firearms.
"It's simply a safety factor," he said. "It really presents an unknown
that's difficult to create contingencies for."
Erwin introduced his bill in the 2007 legislative session a few weeks
after a student with a history of mental problems killed 33 students
and faculty and himself at Virginia Tech. The shooting sparked a
debate over gun possession on campuses.
A Virginia Tech Review Panel report commissioned by The Commonwealth
of Virginia said data on the effects of carrying guns on campus was
"incomplete and inconclusive."
The report, issued in August, noted concerns from the head of the
American Psychiatric Association about increased risk of suicides and
assault with a larger gun supply on campus. It added that students
told the panel they were uncomfortable with the possibility of
attending classes with armed students or professors. [PVC: The
students are not going to know who is or isn't carrying and any
uncomfortableness will fade quickly. Perhaps they would be more
"comfortable" facing someone like Cho without any means of self-
A 2005 report by the U.S. Justice Department found that killings on
college campuses, though tragic, are relatively rare. The report,
noting a general decline in violent crime directed at students between
1995 and 2002, found 93 percent of violent incidents involving college
students took place off campus.
But Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, a
Springfield, Va.-based group that calls itself the only "no-compromise
gun lobby" in Washington, D.C., said there is "no reason" students
should be forbidden from carrying guns on campus. The group opposes
regulations on gun possession at all school levels.
"It's a very bad idea to tell anybody a gun-free zone is a safety
zone," Pratt said. "It's only a safety zone for criminals."
Brian Siebel, a senior attorney with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun
Violence and author of a report on attempts to loosen gun regulations
on college campuses, said that having guns on campus could lead those
committing crimes to pack more firepower, while also increasing the
risk of accidental shootings by armed students who intervene.
Siebel was also skeptical of the requirements in Erwin's bill.
"This is a one-time skills course," he said. "Does the fact people
have taken a drivers' ed course mean there are no irresponsible
drivers on highway? Obviously not."
Erwin, who said ROTC students were the best qualified to carry guns on
campus, did not speculate on the bill's prospects.
"I think there's a ways to go before it becomes a bill that makes it
to the floor of the Senate," he said. "But the important thing is
we've started a dialogue."
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