The armed female security volunteer who stopped the man who fatally shot four people and wounded five more in Arvada and Colorado Springs on Sunday has spoken to the news media. Jeanne Assam gives credit to God for her heroic actions:
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Jeanne Assam appeared before the news media for the first time Monday and said she "did not think for a minute to run away" when a gunman entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and started shooting.
There was applause as Assam spoke to reporters and TV cameras saying, "God guided me and protected me."
New Life's Senior Pastor Brady Boyd called Assam "a real hero" because Murray "had enough ammunition on him to cause a lot of damage."
When asked by a reporter if she felt like a hero, Assam said, "I wasn't just going to wait for him to do further damage."
"I give credit to God," she said.
Assam described how the gunman, Matthew Murray, entered the east entrance of the church firing his rifle.
"There was chaos," Assam said, as parishioners ran away, "I will never forget the gunshots. They were so loud."
"I saw him coming through the doors" and took cover, Assam said. "I came out of cover and identified myself and engaged him and took him down."
"God was with me," Assam said. "I didn't think for a minute to run away."
Assam said she believes God gave her the strength to confront Murray, keeping her calm and focused even though he appeared to be twice her size and was more heavily armed.
Murray was carrying two handguns, an assault rifle and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, said Sgt. Jeff Johnson of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
"It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," she said.
Assam worked as a police officer in downtown Minneapolis during the 1990s and is licensed to carry a weapon. She attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during another service.
Boyd said Assam was the one who suggested the church beef up its security Sunday following the Arvada shooting, which it did. The pastor credited the security plan and the extra security for preventing further bloodshed.
Tragically, the man killed four people before he was stopped, including two teenage daughters in the same family.
It could have been even worse.
About 7,000 people were on the church campus at the time of the shooting, said Boyd.
. . . . Boyd said Assam's actions saved the lives of 50 to 100 people.
Assam said she was ending three days of fasting on Sunday when fate put her in the path of the gunman.
"I was praying to God that he direct me" in what to do in life, Assam said. "God made me strong."
Two interesting notes from Vox Popoli. The killer said that he "hated all Christians" and wanted to kill as many as possible. And, not to fault the other armed security volunteers on the scene, but Assam acted boldly while other armed men on the scene hesitated. A Vietman veteran says it's the bravest thing he's ever seen:
Larry Bourbonnais, a combat-tested Vietnam veteran, said it was the bravest thing he's ever seen.
Bourbonnais, who was among those shot by a gunman Sunday at New Life Church, watched as a security guard, a woman later identified as Jeanne Assam, calmly returned fire and killed the shooter.
"She just started walking toward the gunman firing the whole way," said Bourbonnais, who was shot in the arm. "She was just yelling 'Surrender,' walking and shooting the whole time."
. . . .
Near an entryway in the church, Bourbonnais came upon the gunman and an armed male church security guard who was there with his gun drawn but not firing, he said.
Bourbonnais said he pleaded with the armed guard to give him his weapon.
"Give me your handgun. I've been in combat, and I'm going to take this guy out," Bourbonnais recalled telling the guard. "He kept yelling, 'Get behind me! Get behind me!' He wouldn't hand me his weapon, but he wouldn't do anything."
There was an additional armed security guard there, another man, who also didn't fire, Bourbonnais said.
. . . .
At about that moment, Assam turned a corner with a drawn handgun, walked toward the gunman and yelled "Surrender!" Bourbonnais said.
The gunman pointed a handgun at Assam and fired three shots, Bourbonnais said. She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round.
After the gunman went down, Bourbonnais asked Assam, a volunteer security guard with the church, how she remained so calm and focused.
Bourbonnais said she replied:
"I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide me the entire time."
Update 1: A new report says the killer died from a self-inflicted shot to the head. It will be interesting to hear how and when the man shot himself. Based on witness accounts quoted above, the killer was still pointing his gun and shooting at Ms. Assam and, before that, Mr. Bouurbannais, right before he died.
Update 2: Ah-hah! The answer I was looking for:
An autopsy determined that Murray killed himself with a bullet to the head after he was brought down by gunfire from a volunteer security guard at the church, authorities said.
It's clear, then, that the shooter did not stop his rampage until he was brought down by gunfire from Ms. Assam.