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4 dead in 2 religious center shootings

6:51 AM, Dec 10, 2007   |    comments
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The gunfire erupted inside the 10,000-plus member mega-church, New Life Church, just after 1 p.m., according to authorities. 

The gunman opened fire in the foyer of New Life Church, located at 11025 Voyager Parkway in Colorado Springs, as the 11 a.m. service was getting out. Authorities say the shooting occurred outside of the church.

Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers confirmed at a 5:40 p.m. press briefing that a church security guard shot and killed the gunman.

Myers says one other person died at the scene. 9Wants to Know confirmed the victim was a teenage girl.

Of the four additional shooting victims, one was treated and released at the scene and three were taken to Penrose Community Hospital in Colorado Springs, Myers said.
 
At a 10 p.m. briefing, Myers said two of the victims were still hospitalized. One was listed in fair condition and one was in critical condition.

SWAT officers searching the New Life campus found several suspicious devices. Myers said they were conducting a second search Sunday evening.

Police are not releasing any information about what kind of weapon was used in the attack. 9NEWS has learned the gunman was dressed with a tactical helmet and body armor.

About 100 people were still inside the church after the shooting.
Immediately following the shooting, businesses in the area, including Lockheed Martin, were put on lockdown.

Witnesses are asked to call Colorado Springs Police at 719-444-7000.

"Please pray for our church, pray for the people who were injured," said New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd. He also praised the rapid response by police. 

Boyd says the following number has been set up for church members who need help or have questions: 719-594-6602

New Life Church was founded by Ted Haggard. Haggard was forced out after admitting in November 2006 to sexual immorality and purchasing methamphetamines from a gay escort.

Boyd took over as pastor in August 2007.

Earlier on Sunday, two people were killed and two others were injured in a shooting at Youth with a Mission (YWAM) in Arvada when a lone gunman opened fire and then fled the scene. He has not been apprehended. To learn more about this shooting, click here.

Asked whether he believed there was reason to think the shootings are related, Arvada Police Chief Dan Wick responded, "Yes, there is reason to believe that."

Dale Lambert, the assistant director to YWAM says there is no direct link between the YWAM program in Arvada to New Life Church. However, the YWAM in Colorado Springs does work with New Life Church.

Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colorado) issued the following statement on the shootings:
"Today, Colorado mourns the tragic loss of those killed and injured in two senseless shootings. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those who were taken from us, and we pray for the speedy recovery of those who were wounded. Violent crimes of any sort are tragic enough, but when innocent people are killed in a religious facility or a place of worship, we must voice a collective sense of outrage and demonstrate a renewed commitment to keeping our communities safe. We have activated the Colorado Information Analysis Center, and I have directed the Department of Public Safety, Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to provide immediate assistance to the local and federal agencies investigating the shootings."

U.S. Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) also issued a statement about the shootings.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this tragic time. It is incomprehensible that such atrocities could occur in places of faith and worship. It is my hope that the assailants are caught and swiftly brought to justice," he said.

Police say any new information will be released at 9 a.m. Monday. Police have also scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. Monday.

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