Denver: Gunman Opens Fire in Christian Missionary Center [Update 6]

Breaking news!

Gunman wounds 4 in missionary center

The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 12/09/2007 05:55:27 AM MST

DENVER – A gunman walked into a training center for young Christian missionaries in a Denver suburb early Sunday and opened fire, wounding at least four people.

The shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Youth With a Mission center, Arvada Police spokeswoman Susan Medina said.

The extent of the injuries was not clear, and the gunman was still at large Sunday morning.

According to its Web site, Youth With a Mission has about 1,000 locations worldwide and trains people to become missionaries. About 50 people were inside the Arvada site when the gunman opened fire.



Witnesses told police that the gunman was a white male, about 20 years old, wearing a dark jacket and a skull cap. He may have glasses or a beard.

According to its Web site, Youth With a Mission has about 1,000 locations worldwide and trains people to become missionaries. About 50 people were inside the Arvada site when the gunman opened fire.

Update 2:

Police with dogs searched through the night and nearby houses were alerted via reverse 911.

Medina said residents should look out their windows to see if the shooter had left tracks in the snow overnight.

About four inches of snow had fallen in the area in the past day.

Update 3:

The dormitory is on the campus of the Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, about 13 miles west of Denver.

People bundled up against subfreezing cold trickled into the sanctuary for Sunday services as detectives conducted their investigation at the dormitory, about 300 yards from the church.

Darv Smith, director of a Youth With a Mission center in Boulder, said people ranging from their late teens to their 70s undergo a 12-week discipleship course that prepares them to be missionaries.

He said the center trains about 300 people a year.

Youth With a Mission was started in 1960 and now has 1,100 locations with 16,000 full-time staff, Smith said. The Arvada center at the Faith Bible Chapel campus was founded in 1984.

Update 4:

missionary_shooting.jpgAP Photo: A police car blocks the roadway leading to a youth ministry dormitory on the campus…

17 minutes ago

ARVADA, Colo. – A gunman walked into a training center dormitory for young Christian missionaries early Sunday and opened fire, killing two people and wounding two others. No arrests had been made by late morning.


coloshootingap.jpgA gunman entered the dormitory in Arvada, Colorado, early Sunday.

Peter Warren, the center’s co-founder, said a man and a woman were killed. He said the woman was from Minnesota and the man was from Alaska. He did not provide their ages.

“These kids were like our kids, you know?” he told CNN affiliate KUSA. “It’s just such a tragedy.”

He said a memorial service for the two would likely be held Tuesday or Wednesday.

One person remained in critical condition, according to Peter Iliyn, the regional director for Youth With a Mission. He did not give information regarding the fourth person wounded in the attack.

The names of the victims were being withheld pending notification of family members, police said.


Another shooting 12 hours later at a Church which has a connection to the Mission Center in the first shooting incident. Sixty five miles away. Four shot.

Update 5:

29 minutes ago

ARVADA, Colo. – 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 at a busy megachurch in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs police Lt. Fletcher Howard said a suspect had been detained in the shootings at the New Life Church, but a source who was locked down at the church Sunday afternoon said a security guard had shot and killed the gunman. 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.

A gunman in a black trench coat and a high-powered rifle entered the church’s main foyer about 1 p.m. and began shooting, according to the source at the church, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the police department had asked that it 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 the nursery.

The gunman was killed by a member of the church’s armed security staff, the source said. Four people were shot, and the source did not know whether the shooter was one of the four. A SWAT team was searching the building for an explosive device, but the source could not confirm any details.

The conditions of the four people shot at New Life were not immediately known, El Paso County Sheriff’s Lt. Lari Sevene said.

The first shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, a Denver suburb, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said.

A man and a woman were killed and two men were wounded, Medina said. All four were staff members with the center, said Paul Filidis, a Colorado Springs-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.

Arvada Police Chief Don Wick said the suspect spent several minutes speaking with people inside the dorm. Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission Denver, said the man asked whether he could spend the night.

When told he couldn’t stay, the man opened fire, then left on foot, Warren said.


Update 6:

Colo. gunman may have warned of attacks

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Authorities believe the man who killed four people at a church and missionary training center posted an anti-Christian diatribe online that closely repeated a rant by one of the Columbine killers, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Matthew Murray, who was kicked out of a missionary training center where the first shooting occurred, is believed to have posted the message on a Web site for people who have left evangelical religious groups. His most recent post 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.”

What does that remind me of? Oh yes one of the comments left on this very post..

Kip While I am opposed to violence altogether, and murder obviously especially, these people are nothing more than casualties of war. A war, by the way, that they started.

God bless the deceased and their families. Prayers going out to all involved especially the surviving two. May they recover.

Youth With a Mission Denver


9 Responses to “Denver: Gunman Opens Fire in Christian Missionary Center [Update 6]”

  1. 1 kip
    December 9, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    While I am opposed to violence altogether, and murder obviously especially, these people are nothing more than casualties of war. A war, by the way, that they started.

  2. December 9, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    Excuse me???? What is your malfunction? Prone to knee jerking are you?
    Causalities of a war they started? What war?
    How callous! What a cold heart and a black soul you must have.

  3. 3 censoredagain
    December 9, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Kip I am so on your side on this one with one caveat. As long as no Jehovah Witnesses (JW’s) were around because as a church JW’s are not politically active unlike many other churches with theocratic desires. Theocrats are the ones deserving the wrath of hundreds of thousand gunmen. Not those trying to be Christ like and call mans heart to goodness so his behavior will change opposed to theocrats that want to legislate mans behavior to “goodness”. The theocratic way is actually satanic in nature.

    By the way I am not a JW I just have respect for them.

  4. December 9, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Jehovah Witnesses are a religious cult. There have been stories reported that once a family member leaves Jehovah Witnesses the ones remaining have to break all ties.

    This article explains a lot.

    Sunday, February 13, 2000 The Halifax Herald Limited

    By Susan LeBlanc / Staff Reporter SUNDAY EXTRA

    ARNOLD FOX has kept it bottled up for 25 years.

    He doesn’t want to appear crazy.

    “People just don’t believe that these things take place, and they do,” says Fox, 67.

    The retired Fall River man says the Jehovah’s Witnesses had a role in the 1975 disappearance of his wife and two youngest children.

    Grief-stricken, Fox paid a private investigation company to pursue the family across Canada.

    But he has never seen them again.

    It’s a startling tale, which Randy Duplak, his lawyer at the time, remembers to this day.

    “It was an unbelievable scenario that people just wouldn’t co-operate, denied knowledge, denied knowing where his wife and children were,” says Duplak, now a provincial government lawyer.

    “It was almost like a spy game you see on a TV movie. You didn’t see it in real life.”

    Duplak says he had no reason to doubt Fox’s theory, because Fox appeared credible and had been “an insider” – a Witness – until being evicted from the group, or disfellowshipped, two months before his family vanished.

    Fox says smoking was the reason he was given for being kicked out of the Witness congregation in Dartmouth’s Woodlawn area. Smoking is still grounds for being disfellowshipped.

    Fox had smoked “for a thousand years . . . played the fiddle and drank and all that good stuff” after running away from his Halifax home, and his Jehovah’s Witness mother, at age 16.

    Within five or six years he returned and, on May 11, 1957, he married Catherine Lilley Brecknell in Bethany United Church in Halifax.

    Influenced by Fox’s mother, Catherine converted to the Witnesses. Fox got involved “to a degree,” though he says it was half-hearted.

    Sadly, his wife suffered from mental illness and attempted suicide twice, he says. In 1965, she took their young son Terry and left Arnold, aided in hiding by Witnesses in Toronto, he says. He found her and, “after having to talk to about 16 bloody Witnesses,” brought her home.

    Afterwards, they lived what Fox calls “a roller-coaster ride.” According to 1974-75 medical records contained in Fox’s legal file, and which he has allowed Duplak to show to The Sunday Herald, the Foxes shared an “unhappy” and even “unhealthy” relationship.

    Duplak says the medical records were obtained to satisfy lawyers that Catherine wasn’t running because Fox was abusive.

    In 1975, the couple was living on Bella Vista Drive in Dartmouth and had three children – Terry, 17, Daniel about eight, and Coleen, about six.

    “I’d had enough religion – and that’s putting it in very short form – but the last thing I had said was, ‘The children shall no longer attend the Kingdom Hall,’ ” Fox says.

    He knew that made him vulnerable with the Witnesses, because as the father and an obvious doubter, he could try to override the group’s ban on blood transfusions if his children were under medical care.

    Fox was summoned to the nearby Kingdom Hall to appear before a judicial committee. He went, knowing he was to be disfellowshipped.

    Using smoking as the grounds “was a ploy. They had to use something. . . . The point is, they couldn’t have helped (my wife) away on a permanent basis unless I was disfellowshipped. . . . And two months later, they were gone.”

    On Aug. 24, 1975, Fox returned home with Daniel and discovered his wife had fled with Coleen.

    On Sept. 15, Daniel “was picked up at school, a ticket was put around his neck and he was put on board a flight to Toronto” to meet his mother, Fox says.

    He says son Terry, a devout Witness who would soon marry, admitted that he and “others” had taken Daniel to the Halifax airport. This story is contained in Fox’s affidavit dated Oct. 28, 1977, which was filed with the courts in the preliminary stages of Fox’s child-custody application. The affidavit was also used to access telephone records in the search for the family. Fox later dropped the custody proceeding because he could not locate the children.

    The Sunday Herald tracked down Terry Fox at his home in Lethbridge, Alta. He is still a Jehovah’s Witness.

    He is hesitant to discuss his father’s allegations. But he does not deny Arnold Fox’s version of events. He will only say his father is being unfair about the role of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the affair.

    “The family didn’t ever split up over religious reasons,” says Terry Fox, 41. “It was such a wild situation. It was so odd and all the rest of it. I don’t feel able to elaborate and lay the rest of it on the table.”

    Terry Fox says he last spoke with his father in 1977 and “left the ball in Dad’s court” as far as future contact. “I haven’t heard from him since.”

    An ex-Witness supports Arnold Fox’s story, saying he knew the elder who helped take Daniel to the airport. That elder has since died, he says.

    By the time Daniel disappeared, Fox had already hired Duplak, a young lawyer then with the Dartmouth firm Weldon Misener and Covert. The matter was “the kidnapping of his child, Coleen Heather Fox,” Duplak alleged in his Nov. 10, 1977, affidavit filed in the early stages of the child-custody application.

    Duplak squirrelled away Fox’s file because the case was so intriguing. Inside are the photographs Fox supplied to help identify his family.

    One shows a smiling young girl and an older boy standing outside, barefoot and proudly holding a fish between them.

    Another shows Catherine, with a beehive hairdo and glasses, posing with the two boys near a lake.

    The third photo is a shot of a young Arnold, Catherine and two of the children huddling against the wind.

    The loss of the children left Fox “almost out of my mind with grief and sadness.” He also feared for their safety because he believed Catherine was suicidal.

    He says he went immediately to police, who told him it wasn’t a crime for a mother to take her children. (In 1982, the Criminal Code was amended to make it an offence for a parent to abduct his or her child, even when there is no court custody order.)

    Fox says police were able to verify that the children were OK, but said they could do nothing further.

    Fox asked Duplak to hire private investigators, and World Investigation Service of Toronto was chosen. (The firm no longer appears in the telephone directory.)

    From November 1975 until October 1976, investigators followed the family from Toronto to various addresses in Victoria, B.C., always coming up short.

    Fox had learned through a friend in airport security, who is now dead, that the limousine carrying Daniel had gone to a Toronto address, but this was a string of over 100 townhouses.

    Because Fox wanted the search done quietly to keep the family from bolting, investigators opted against banging on each of those 100-plus doors.

    In a letter to Duplak dated March 5, 1976, World Investigation Service reported they had noticed a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall near the townhouse development, but “following Sunday services . . . no one resembling the photographs of Mrs. Fox was observed.”

    Duplak says there was little police could do. Fox’s file refers to a Dartmouth police investigation running from August 1976 until Feb. 16, 1977. Police concluded Catherine and the children might have moved to the United States. That lead was checked, but the U.S. Consulate in Victoria reported Catherine Fox had not applied for an immigration visa.

    Fox even speculated that the family had changed its name.

    In his 1977 affidavit, Duplak stated, “Our investigations show and I do verily believe that Catherine Fox and Coleen Heather Fox (and Daniel Patrick Fox) were transported by members of the Jehovah Witness sect . . . (and) are being harboured and hidden by members of the sect.”

    Today, Duplak still thinks Catherine had help.

    “Somebody had to be helping them, for whatever reason she might have left,” he says. “It was impossible to trace. It was well done. . . . There were no mistakes.”

    Dennis Charland, public affairs director for the Witnesses’ governing Watchtower Bible and Tract Society in Canada, says there would be nothing wrong with fellow Witnesses helping a woman who wants to leave her husband.

    Charland cannot comment on Fox’s story, but says, “to suggest that (his family disappeared) because of the church, well, that’s heresy.

    “We have nothing to hide,” Charland said from Halton Hills, Ont.

    In metro, community relations chairman Grant Avery said he does not know the circumstances of Fox’s case.

    “We keep those matters (of disfellowship and membership) very confidential, and the individuals, they know that as well,” Avery says.

    During the three or four years following the disappearance, Fox also hired police officers in British Columbia and Ontario to do private sleuthing for him. He says he spent about $15,000 trying to find his children.

    “Quite frankly, I would rather deal with the Mafia than deal with that organization,” he says with bitterness.

    Fox moved to Newfoundland, trying to forget. He met Betty, whom he would later marry and have a son with. It was a new life.

    But when Fox returned to Nova Scotia around 1980, the tragedy hit him all over again.

    “I folded up for about two months. There were just too many nights I sat in that old La-Z-Boy of mine and cried my eyes out,” he says.

    “I don’t care who the man is, unless he’s made of granite, it literally tears you apart.”

    In 1983, he started divorce proceedings against Catherine. Not knowing her whereabouts, he had the papers delivered to her sister in P.E.I.

    He did not hear from Catherine, and the uncontested divorce was granted on June 4, 1984.

    Fox stated in documents he did not know the children’s whereabouts and did not request custody.

    Last Valentine’s Day, his daughter Coleen telephoned out of the blue, and they had an awkward 15-minute conversation. He learned his ex-wife had committed suicide about three years earlier.

    Coleen said she was calling from Western Canada, that she was married to an older man and had children. Fox assumed she was still a Witness.

    She promised to write and send photos of the grandchildren he has never seen. She has not contacted him since.

    “There were a lot of things I would love to ask her. I don’t know where all this fear comes from (on her part), because as children ages six and seven, when I came home, they’d come running to me with open arms, and we had a great rapport.”

    Fox has heard that his oldest son is in Alberta, is married and has children. He hasn’t tried to contact him again, because “it would be to no avail. He won’t speak to me.”

    He has no idea what became of Daniel.

    Copyright © 2000 The Halifax Herald Limited


    I have experienced their fervor first hand. They would come knocking on my door. The first time I would politely tell them I was not interested. The second time I attempted to get my point across in a more stern way. Did that stop them? No. The third and last time I ignored their knocking. What did they do? Did they quietly leave my property? No. They continued to knock louder and harder. Banging & pounding was more like it. How bloody arrogant! As if I owed it to them to open my door to my home. In order to have peace of mind I opened the door and demanded that they to leave my property immediately. Did they? No. They then had me face to face and and tried to preach their word. Threats of calling the police FINALLY got through to them they had better leave. ASAP

    And how ignorant that their members (even children) die on the grounds of refusing blood transfusions. That is unfathomable.

  5. December 10, 2007 at 11:17 am

    This is incredibly sad and I’m praying for the families of the victims and those who were wounded.

  6. December 10, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Velvet,
    I’m off to work, but I must say you have some freaking insane commenters over here. So the two POSs that think these people had this coming … you think an unarmed teenage girl in CO Springs deserved this? Rot in hell you ignorant bastards.

  7. December 10, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Hi wytammic

    I second that emotion!

    I accidentally deleted velvethammer’s comment from above.

    Here it is again. lol

    Thank you Shane. As am I.

  8. 8 Julie
    September 10, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    He was my brother and I am just now bringing myself to look at all this crap on the internet.

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