'Colorado gunman killed himself'

Associated Press/December 12, 2007

The man who killed four people at a Colorado church and a missionary training centre was killed by a bullet he fired himself, though he was hit by shots from a church security officer, police have said.

Matthew Murray, 24, was struck multiple times by a security officer at New Life Church on Sunday, but his death was ruled a suicide, the El Paso County Coroner's Office concluded after an autopsy.

Volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam shot Murray after he entered the church. Though investigators had earlier suggested he killed himself, they 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 on Monday.

The first attack on Sunday took place at Youth With a Mission, a training centre for missionaries in the Denver suburb of Arvada; the other occurred about 12 hours later at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

Officials said revenge was one apparent motive for the attacks. Police said Murray had sent hate mail to the Youth With a Mission centre in the last few weeks after being removed from the programme years ago.

In a statement, the training centre said health problems kept Murray from finishing the programme, but elaborated little. Murray did not complete the lecture phase or a field assignment as part of a 12-week programme, Youth With a Mission said on Tuesday.

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