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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 13:34 GMT
US church gunman killed himself
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 a man who carried out two fatal shootings at religious sites in Colorado on Sunday committed suicide.

Matthew Murray killed a man and woman in their 20s at a missionary centre in Denver and two teenage sisters at a Colorado Springs church.

It had been reported that he was shot dead by Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security guard at the church.

An autopsy report says Ms Assam did shoot the gunman many times, but that he died from a self inflicted wound.

It should be noted that he was struck multiple times by the security officer, which put him down
El Paso County Coroner's Office statement

Nonetheless Ms Assam, a former police officer, has been widely praised for taking on Murray and preventing possible further loss of life at New Life Church, which is 105km (65miles) from the scene of the first shooting.

"The death of Matthew Murray has been ruled a suicide," the El Paso County Coroner's Office said in a statement. "It should be noted that he was struck multiple times by the security officer, which put him down. He then fired a single round killing himself."

Sisters killed

Security had been tightened at New Life Church after it was warned about the shootings at the Youth With A Mission training centre in the Denver suburb of Arvada, in which Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, were killed and two men wounded.

Jeanne Assam
It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God
Jeanne Assam
Volunteer security guard
"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," Pastor Brady Boyd from New Life Church later said.

Twelve hours after the first shooting Murray had 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. Their father, David Works, was injured.

At a press conference on Monday, Ms Assam explained that she had seen the gunman coming through the church doors.

She said that she took cover, identified herself to him and then fired.

"I took him down," she said.

"It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," she added.

Family's apology

Mr Murray did not have a criminal record but is reported to have "hated Christians" and held a grudge against members of the Youth With A Mission training centre after he failed to complete a course there.

He is said to have 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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