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Family of gunman 'cannot understand why'

9:55 PM, Dec 10, 2007   |    comments
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"Our family cannot express the magnitude of our grief for the victims and families of this tragedy. On behalf of our family and our son, we ask for forgiveness," said Pastor Phil Abeyta, 24-year-old Matthew Murray's uncle. "We cannot understand why this has happened. We ask for prayer for the victims and their families during this time of grief. We are cooperating fully with the police agencies involved in the investigation of the events that led to this tragedy. Respectfully, the Murray family."

He made the statement at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada after police announced Monday they had linked Murray to both that shooting and the one in Colorado Springs.

Three people, including the gunman, 24-year-old Matthew Murray, died in the attack Sunday at the 10,000-plus member New Life Church. Two others died at the earlier shooting at the Youth With a Mission center. Five people were wounded in the attacks. The shootings occurred about 12 hours and 65 miles apart.

At a joint news conference Monday afternoon, police from Arvada and Colorado Springs went into more detail about Sunday's grim events.

Murray fired between 25 and 30 shots both inside and outside New Life Church, according to Colorado Springs Police Sgt. Jeff Jensen.

He walked into the east entrance of New Life Church firing his rifle and a security guard, Jeanne Assam, shot him. Jensen said Murray traveled approximately 80 feet down the hallway before he was hit. Police say Assam shot Murray, but could not positively say it was her shots that killed him.

Arvada Police Chief Don Wick said on Monday afternoon they had matched gun casings found in Arvada to one of the handguns they found with Murray in Colorado Springs.

Investigators also say the physical description matches and evidence found at his home, plus interviews with family members, led them to believe Murray was the gunman in Arvada as well as Colorado Springs.

Police say Murray had a backpack with him in Colorado Springs with about 1,000 rounds of ammunition. He was armed with an assault rifle and two handguns.

Authorities say 18-year-old Stephanie Works and 16-year-old Rachel Works died from their injuries at New Life Church. They were hit in the parking lot, along with their father. 51-year-old David Works is hospitalized with two gunshot wounds to the abdomen and groin area, and is listed in stable condition.

Two other people injured in the New Life shootings were treated and released from a hospital. They're identified as 40-year-old Judy Purcell and 59-year-old Larry Bourbannais.

In Arvada, 26-year-old Tiffany Johnson of Minnesota and 24-year-old Philip Crouse of Alaska were killed. 24-year-old Dan Griebenow of South Dakota and 22-year-old Charlie Blanch were injured.

Youth With a Mission (YWAM) says Murray was a student there in 2002. He was enrolled, but did not complete the program. YWAM said in a statement, "Murray did not complete the lecture phase of his Discipleship Training School, nor did he participate in the field assignment. The program directors felt that issues with his health made it inappropriate for him to do so. Murray left the Arvada training center and no one at the facility recalls that he has made any other visits or had any communication with the center since that time."

On Monday evening, Peter Warren, spokesperson with YWAM said they are still trying to recover from the tragedy.

"We've gathered together with all of our staff and students to be able to process together and pray for one another and cry together," said Warren.

Chief Wick says he has met with the families of the victims of the Arvada shootings.

"They are doing pretty well considering the circumstances and are supporting the investigation," said Wick.

9Wants to Know has learned Murray lived with his family in Englewood. His father, Dr. Ronald Murray, is a well-known doctor.

Investigators searched that home on Sunday night.

Officers were seen removing 15 to 20 boxes from his home Sunday night and camera flashes from inside the home could be seen. Investigators from the ATF, FBI, Arapahoe County, Arvada and Colorado Springs all participated in the search. Additionally, Arapahoe County's bomb squad was at the home as a precaution, but the neighborhood was not evacuated.

Neighbors described Murray as a loner and as someone who was very quiet and didn't talk to neighbors.

A friend also told The Associated Press that Murray grew up in a deeply religious Christian household.

9NEWS has learned Murray's family attends His Love Fellowship at 8th and Kalamath in Denver. That is where Abeyta, Murray's uncle, is the pastor. However, several church members say Matthew Murray had not attended that church in several years.

His Love Fellowship elder Jim Wurst says Murray's mother is an active member in the church community.

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