Shooter had problems at Christian facilities
DENVER – The Colorado man who shot and killed four people at a Christian youth mission center and a megachurch soured on his faith because of experiences at both facilities and even was seen as a problem by church officers, Internet postings suggest.The postings, apparently made by shooter Matthew Murray, portray a youth who was suicidal for extended periods and was put on antidepressant medication as he struggled with his beliefs.In a September 2004 posting on a Web site called Independent Spirits, the author recalled a life identical to Murray’s and said he had been noticed as someone who “could be planning violence” at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.Murray killed two people at New Life Church Sunday before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. About 12 hours earlier, he shot and killed two other people at the Youth With A Mission dorm some 65 miles away in the Denver suburb of Arvada. Police say Murray was motivated by revenge.Using the pen name “Christnghtmr,” the user described going to a charismatic conference at New Life with his mother.”I got into a debate with two prayer team staff members,” he wrote. “These two staff members watched me throughout the conference to find out who I was with. They found my mother and told her this story that went something along the lines of I “wasn’t walking with the lord and could be planning violence.”Murray’s mother, Loretta Murray, said through a spokeswoman that there was no such incident involving two church staff members.After the conference, the user said his mother and a pastor searched his room for “anything evil,” including video games and a DVD collection.”After that incident my mother searched my room for the next 3 months EVERY SINGLE DAY. After that I decided it was over, that I had had it with christianity.”In the 1,200-word post, Christnghtmr tells of growing up in a Christian homeschooling family and being removed from the Youth With a Mission program, as Murray had been.As in other postings linked to Murray, the writer expresses anger toward his family and makes allegations of homosexuality in church organizations.He said being removed from the Arvada mission caused him to lose his faith.”When I got back home it was back to the good old restriction and that is when I started having serious doubts about christianity,” Chrstnghtmr wrote.But according to the post, problems at the mission were only part of a troubled past.”In addition to all of (Christian homeschool curriculum guru) Bill Gothard’s insanity, my mother was into all the charismatic/”fanatical evangelical” insanity.,” Christnghtmr wrote. “Her and her church believed that Satan and demons were everywhere in everything. The rules were VERY strict all the time. We couldn’t have ANY christian or non-christian music at all except for a few charismatic worship CDs.”After trying to “go all out for God” and failing, Christnghtmr wrote he fell into deep depression.Murray, 24, was dismissed from Youth With a Mission in 2002 for what the training center has described only as health reasons.Murray’s family has declined comment on the Web site postings attributed to him. Those postings include at least 11 screeds threatening to kill Christians that appeared after the Arvada but before the Colorado Springs shootings.The family did issue a statement saying it was “groping for answers” and that they intend to bury their son this week.”We are lost in grief as we prepare to bury our beloved son, Matthew. We loved Matthew with all our hearts, and we are groping for answers as we try in vain to understand the events of last Sunday,” the family said.New Life Church pastor Brady Boyd said Wednesday his staff has no record of an incident with Murray.”We’ve had hundreds of thousands of people come through here for conferences, and we’ve had to confront some people,” Boyd said. “We have no recollection of this, and this seems like a minor incident.”Boyd added: “We’ve got to stop giving credence to this guys’ Web postings.”Police on Wednesday said Murray had an assault rifle, a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a 9mm semiautomatic handgun when he entered New Life church. Investigators found an AK-47 assault rifle in his car and a .22-caliber handgun at his home.Murray purchased the weapons between November 2006 and Sept. 11 in the Denver area and in Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs police spokesman Skip Arms said.Arms said 26 rounds had been fired from Murray’s Bushmaster assault rifle and one round from the Springfield 9mm.Jeanne Assam, the volunteer security guard at New Life who shot and wounded Murray, had a Beretta 9mm semiautomatic handgun and fired a total of 10 rounds, Arms said.In Arvada, relatives of the two slain missionaries, Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, met privately with Murray’s parents Wednesday to grieve and offer prayers for both the attacker and his victims.”We believe that she (Johnson) would want to forgive. I just want to extend from our family to theirs forgiveness. They have done nothing wrong,” said Johnson’s uncle, Andy Ronchak.Also Wednesday, about 1,000 people attended a memorial service for Johnson and Crouse at Faith Bible Church near the Youth With a Mission campus. Under heavy security, they shed tears, laughed at anecdotes and sang Christian rock songs as they celebrated the lives of Johnson and Crouse.—Associated Press writer Dan Elliott and AP Religion Writer Eric Gorski contributed to this report.
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