Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Jeanne Assam (Courtesy KUSA-TV)
DENVER – The female security guard who shot and stopped a gunman at a Colorado Springs church yesterday is crediting God for helping her to resolve the threat by killing the assailant.
Jeanne Assam was hailed by Pastor Brady Boyd with saving many lives in her quick response to gunshots fired at the New Life Church.
“I give the credit to God, and I mean that, I say that very humbly, God was with me the whole time I was behind cover,” she told reporters. “It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God.”
Assam indicated she felt weak as she approached the gunman, since she had been fasting.
“My hands weren’t even shaking. I knew what I had to do,” she said.
“This has got to be God, because of the firepower that [the gunman] had versus what I had – was God. I did not run away, and I didn’t think for a minute to run away. I just knew that I was given the assignment to end this before it got too much worse. I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me.”
Assam said she’s drawn her weapon countless times in her previous work in law enforcement. But she said she’s never had to fire before.
Two teen girls were killed by the attacker in the church parking lot, and two other people were injured in the attack by a gunman identified as Matthew Murray, 24, of Englewood.
Authorities in court papers alleged he had been dismissed from a program at the evangelical Youth With A Mission missionary training program in Arvada, Colo., several years ago.
Police confirmed the attack started at the Arvada training center very early Sunday, where a man apparently seeking a place to stay appeared. He pulled a gun and shortly started firing. Authorities said Tiffany Johnson, 26, of Minnesota, and Philip Crouse, 24, of Alaska, were killed and two others injured.
Murray fled, only to appear 12 hours later at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The attack started in the parking lot, where Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachel Works, 16, were shot and killed, police said. Their father, David Works, 51, was reported hospitalized with gunshot wounds in his abdomen and groin, while Judy Purcell, 40, was wounded in her shoulder, and Larry Bourbannais, 59, was wounded in his arm. They both were treated and released.
Boyd said Assam probably saved 100 lives, and police confirmed the attacker’s backpack contained clips that could have held more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition for the assault weapon he carried.
Charl Van Wyk, who is credited with saving parishioners’ lives when he fired back at terrorists in the St. James Massacre in South Africa, says Assam should be honored.
“The woman who saved lives should get a medal,” Van Wyk told WND.
“Having gone through such a catastrophic experience, my heart goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of those who were murdered and injured at the two church attacks,” said Van Wyk.
“Christians need to be prepared to protect themselves against such attacks; policemen cannot be everywhere all the time and can generally only clean up the mess after such a tragic event,” he continued. “Christians must not think that justice must be ignored because of their faith. The Bible is quite clear that God has instituted civil government as the Minister of Justice and the Church as the Minister of His Grace. These authorities, instituted by God, have different functions, but both operate under His perfect commands found in the Bible.”
He told how on June 23, 1978, terrorists murdered nine British missionaries and four young children, including a three-week-old baby at a mission in Zimbabwe.
“It is worth noting that the only British missionary at the Elim Mission Station who had a firearm – he owned a .38 revolver – was the only survivor! Being cowards, the terrorists left him alone, preferring defenseless victims. The first the armed man knew about the attack, was when he woke up the next morning to find the base deserted. He later discovered the bodies of his fellow missionaries on the sports field,” Peter Hammond writes in the introduction to “Shooting Back – The Right and Duty of Self-Defense,” which is Van Wyk’s own story.
VanWyk’s book tells how he was sitting in the St. James Church in Cape Town, South Africa, during a worship service, when parishioners were attacked by terrorists.
“They opened fire with automatic assault rifles and threw hand grenades between the congregation members. Eleven people were murdered and over 50 injured. I returned fire with a .38 special revolver and the attackers immediately fled the scene,” he said.
Assam, without any sleep and clearly visibly shaken 24 hours after the confrontation, told reporters she wanted to extend sympathies to the families of the victim, as well as the gunman. “I mean that very sincerely,” she said.
“I heard shots fired. It was chaos. There were a lot of people in the church,” she described.
“The halls cleared out, and I saw him coming through the doors. I took cover, waited for him to get closer, came out of cover and identified myself, engaged him, took him down,” she said.
Church officials said they have a contingent of volunteer security officers because of the high profile of the church.
“Obviously if we had not had an armed person on our campus, 50 or 100 people could have lost their lives,” the pastor said.
In a commentary for WND, Van Wyk expressed condolences for the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting but noted that state lawmakers there had, in effect, created a gun-free zone by banning weapons on school campuses.
“There is a striking paradox associated with mass murders. are far more likely to occur in areas that have been designated as gun-free zones,” he wrote. “Worldwide, office buildings, hospitals, convenience stores, TV studios, chain restaurants and day-care centers have all been targets of homicidal maniacs. Mass murders have taken place in such places after they have been declared gun-free zones.
“In 1999, John Lott and William Landes published a U.S. study of multiple shooting incidents. They showed that mass shootings occur less often in areas where responsible citizens may carry weapons,” he continued. “Do mass shootings ever occur in police stations, shooting ranges or at gun shows? Mass murderers select soft targets for their acts of violence. Expecting a suicidal individual to honor a law prohibiting firearms is sheer utopian fantasy.”