2 killed at Christian missionary center, 4 shot at church elsewhere
ARVADA – A gunman killed two people at a training center dormitory for young Christian missionaries early Sunday after being told he couldn’t spend the night, and hours later four people were shot outside a church in Colorado Springs.It was not immediately known whether the shootings, about 65 miles apart, were related. No arrests had been made in either attack by afternoon.The conditions of the four people shot Sunday afternoon in Colorado Springs, in the parking lot of the New Life Church, was 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.
The gunman came to the door of the Arvada dormitory seeking shelter, asking if he could spend the night, said Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission Denver.When told he couldn’t stay, the man walked inside, opened fire, then left on foot, Warren said.Warren said he didn’t know if any of the students or staff knew the gunman. “We don’t know why” he came to the dormitory, Warren said.Witnesses told police that the gunman was a 20-year-old white male, wearing a dark jacket and skull cap, who left on foot. He may have glasses or a beard.Police with dogs searched the area through the night, and residents of nearby homes were notified by reverse 911 to be on the lookout. Medina said residents were asked to look out their windows for any tracks left in the snow during the night. About 4 inches of snow had fallen in the area in the past day.Early Sunday afternoon, Lance Coles, a pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, received a report that a man was shooting at people in the church parking lot and that the gunman may have entered the church, he told The Associated Press.
New Life was founded by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was fired last year after a former male prostitute alleged he had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with him. Haggard, then the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted committing undisclosed “sexual immorality.”The New Life church is one of Colorado’s largest with about 10,000 members.Police in Arvada identified the victims of the shooting there as Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 23. Youth With a Mission said Johnson was from Minnesota and Crouse was from Alaska. Their hometowns weren’t immediately available.About 45 people were evacuated from the Youth with a Mission dormitory and moved to an undisclosed location.The missionary center is located on the grounds of the Faith Bible Chapel. Cheril Morrison, wife of chapel pastor George Morrison, said Crouse had just hung up Christmas lights at her home and that Johnson was “an amazingly beautiful person.”One of the men wounded at Arvada was hospitalized in critical condition and the other was in stable condition, police said. Both are in their 20s.
Mimi Martin, who lives near the center, said she received the warning call at about 9 a.m. warning neighbors to keep their doors and windows locked.”Why would anybody want to hurt those kids?” Martin said.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 course that prepares them to be missionaries. He said the center trains about 300 people a year.Filidis said staffers are usually former missionaries themselves and that the “mercy ministries” performed by trainees include orphanage work. He said he didn’t know where the group being trained in Arvada was going to be sent.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 was founded in 1984.
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