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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 09:27 GMT
Police link Colorado gun attacks
Police outside the New Life Church in Colorado Springs (10 December 2007)
The New Life Church is one of the largest in Colorado
US police say they believe the same man carried out two fatal shootings at religious sites in Colorado on Sunday.

They have named him as Matthew Murray, 24, from Denver, who failed to complete a missionary training course at one of the sites, in a suburb of the city.

The training centre has an office at the other site, a megachurch in Colorado Springs.

Five people were killed in the attacks, including the gunman himself. His family has apologised.

The first two to die were Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24. Two other men were wounded. They were attacked after midnight at the Youth With A Mission training centre in the Denver suburb of Arvada.

The centre said Mr Murray had begun a training programme there in 2002 but left without completing it for unspecified health reasons.

Jeanne Assam
It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God
Jeanne Assam
Volunteer security guard

The second attack took place 105km (65m) away and 12 hours later at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

The gunman opened fire in the car park and then walked into the huge church as the 7,000-strong congregation was filing out.

Sisters Stephanie and Rachel Works, aged 18 and 16, were killed before Mr Murray himself was shot dead by volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam, an ex-policewoman.

"It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," she told a news conference later.

Hatred

Pastor Brady Boyd praised the security guard, and said security at his church had been stepped up after the news of the shooting in Denver.

"Although we are grieving today for the loss of two lives, hundreds of lives were saved yesterday because of the plans that were set in place," he told reporters.

Mr Murray did not have a criminal record but "hated Christians", one unnamed law enforcement official told the Associated Press news agency.

He is said to come from a deeply Christian family. His father is reported to be a leading researcher into the disease multiple sclerosis.

Mr Murray's relatives issued a statement of apology.

"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," it said.

"We cannot understand why this has happened."

The attacks came just four days after a 19-year-old man killed eight people and himself at a busy shopping centre in Omaha, Nebraska.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Female security guard tells how she killed the gunman



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06 Dec 07 |  Americas
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20 Nov 07 |  Americas

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