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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Colordao Church Shootings
Aired December 9, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, ANCHOR: And hello everyone. I'm Tony Harris. News continues to break and new developments are coming in every few minutes in to CNN about the shocking one, two punch of violence today in Colorado. Guns and death and innocent victims in places dedicated to faith and peace. The wheres and whens we know, the whys well, those are much tougher questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
Colorado's horrible day of violence and needless death started here, just outside Denver. It was technically Sunday morning, Saturday night really just after midnight. A group of young missionaries in training were cleaning up after a Christmas dinner and then it happened.
Witnesses say a man, a young man appeared out of the darkness and asked for room for the night. They said they couldn't help him. He didn't answer. Instead he started shooting. Four people went down. The mysterious shooter took off. Two of his four vehicles would later die.
It's enough for the people of one state to handle, but 12 hours later and 80 miles away, a man dressed in black opens fire outside of one of those mega churches in Colorado Springs. We know there are casualties, but we don't know the extent. A suspect is reportedly in custody.
Two facilities dedicated to faith and all victims either worshippers or selfless workers. Are the two incidents linked? With all that Colorado police have to deal with already, investigators are definitely looking into a possible connection.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
HARRIS: One day, two shooting incidents; maybe linked maybe not. Police all over the state are ruling nothing out at this stage in their investigation. We are waiting for a news conference from Colorado Springs. Expected to start any minute now and of course we will bring it to you live right here in the Newsroom.
But for now let's take you as close to this story as we possibly can. And bring you the coverage from our affiliate in Colorado Springs, KOAA.
ABBY LANE, CNN AFFILIATE, KOAA: More on reaction from the people here today. We will head over to Mark. Mark? Mark is still getting ready out there. We will try to get that interview as well for you. For now, we are going to continue our coverage here.
FEMALE ANCHOR: That's right. As she said, the shooting happening after 1:00; that's when police got their first call; 12:30 service letting out. Now as you know, New Life is say mega church up there. A web site said they have about more than 10,000 members at that church.
MALE ANCHOR: Several people hurt and a lot of questions still remain tonight. That shooting again started at about 1:00 this afternoon. There are reports that the shootings started in the parking lot and then moved into the foyer; that's where the associate pastor Rob Brendle told news first.
Police then have told that the suspect is detained. There were reports the suspect was down. There were also reports that the suspect has been shot. All those questions we are still waiting for answers and confirmation. So at this point a lot of questions remain at the scene.
We want to go right now to the hospital, at Penrose Hospital, where several victims were taken. Adam Atchison is standing by at Penrose now. Adam, what's the latest you can tell us from the hospital at Penrose?
ADAM ATCHISON, CORRESPONDENT: As we know from Abby's report not that long ago this evening, there are three victims. We don't know the extent of their injuries right now. We do know that all three are here at Penrose Community Hospital Main in downtown Colorado Springs.
We spoke with the hospital spokeswoman not that long ago to give us a little bit better idea of exactly what kind of condition they are in. According to the hospital regulations though, they can't tell us much. Here's what she had to say just minutes ago.
AMY SUFAK, PENROSE HOSPITAL SPOKESWOMAN: Today we received by ground three victims from the New Life shooting. And two came by ambulance and one apparently in a personal vehicle. At this point they are in critical condition, fair condition, and good condition.
ATCHISON: That was Amy reporting from here for the hospital. Again, the conditions are critical, fair, and good. What that exactly means, we don't know. We are going to try to find out a little bit more information about that as the evening proceeds.
But as you can imagine, there are likely family members here with the victims of the shooting at the hospital. I did speak with the associate pastor at New Life Church a couple of hours ago this afternoon. He told me that there were members of the pastoral staff on their way here to speak with the family members and obviously be with them.
Also, the hospital tells us that they do have pastors with the hospital on staff that are able to help them and counsel the family members here at the hospital this evening. So we will continue to monitor the latest here from Penrose and update you later in the newscast.
MALE ANCHOR: Ok, thanks so much Adam.
HARRIS: We've been listening to the coverage from our affiliate in Colorado Springs KOAA. And I should mention that the reporting that you've been listening to from the anchors and that reporter at the hospital there is in reference to the shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
There was an earlier shooting we can bring you an update on. We do know the names and the ages of the two young people who died after the earlier attack near Denver. Tiffany Johnson from Minnesota; she was 26 years old. Philip Crouse; he was from Alaska and 24 years old. Both were staffers at the live in training center. Two of their colleagues are in the hospital; one of them we understand is in critical condition.
The man who opened fire at the mega church apparently didn't try to hide. One man who witnessed the shooting spree and apparently was shot spoke to reports in Colorado Springs.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was inside.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Go ahead. Keep talking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I was inside, I met him in the ((inaudible)). So I ran all the way from the cafeteria and people were running and I ran and I saw him so nobody was doing anything. I jumped out and he let loose and I peeked back around. I was trying to distract him and then the scene officer came in.
I have been in combat. This is the coolest shooting I have ever seen.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What was he wearing? What did he look like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the typical garb, the black, the combat boots and the automatic assault rifle strapped this way. He had at least, well I saw one. But I have been hit with a buck shot but I couldn't see a shotgun. I don't know what the deal was.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
HARRIS: Ok, we're jumping around just a little bit, but let's take you back roughly 80 miles from Colorado Springs. Another shooting investigation; this one focuses on a missionary dorm in a Denver suburb, the suburb of Arvada.
Tonight, two people are dead, two others wounded. Arvada Deputy Police Chief Gary Creager joins us on the phone. Deputy Chief Creager, thanks for your time this evening. We appreciate it.
GARY CREAGER, ARVADA DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF: Thank you for having me on. HARRIS: Let me first ask you. Are your investigators still working that crime scene at the missionary dorm?
CREAGER: Absolutely. We will probably be out at the crime scene for several days making sure that we have attained all the evidence that is available out there in this case.
HARRIS: Gary, what can you tell us for folks who were just tuning in and getting word of this news; this horrible situation in Colorado, two shootings there; the first shooting happening in your city of Arvada. What can you tell us about what happened there?
CREAGER: Well, we had a suspect and he was described as a white male in his 20s wearing a dark jacket and a dark beanie-style hat. He went to a youth with the mission residence hall as you talked about and he asked for shelter for the night. He was initially allowed entry into the shelter, but they became uncomfortable with him and asked him to leave.
HARRIS: Did he spend some time in the shelter? I mean was he around folks for a period of time before he was asked to leave?
CREAGER: He was there for a few minutes anyway talking with the people at the shelter or at the residence hall, with the victims. They asked him to leave. He then produced a weapon and started firing. He fired multiple rounds, striking all four of the victims.
HARRIS: Have the witnesses been able to tell you, was anyone able to tell you what it was about the suspect that made them uncomfortable and ultimately led them to make the decision to ask him to leave?
CREAGER: Well, obviously the people that talked to him are the victims of this shooting.
HARRIS: But it sounds like you had an opportunity to get some kind of statement.
CREAGER: We have been getting some statements on this and we know the sequence of events that occurred at the incident. After the shooting occurred he fled on foot and we were able to track him for a good distance but ultimately lost him and his footprints.
HARRIS: Let me ask you, you are certainly aware of the situation in Colorado Springs. From what you have been able to learn about that situation there, is there anything -- does there appear to be any kind of connection between the two.
I know this is a question you've heard a couple of times today, but I feel the need to ask it.
CREAGER: Sure and the answer to the question is we don't know at this stage. I mean obviously two shootings at two faith-based locations is very concerning to both us and Colorado Springs.
We have detectives on the scene in Colorado Springs. The event in Colorado Springs is only a few hours old and they are obviously praying diligently to determine who is involved and find out all the information and so we can compare notes.
So at this stage, we just don't know whether the two are connected but they are obviously very concerning. And we are definitely interested in helping people there to find out.
HARRIS: Another quick one, for a period of time and I wonder if you are still working -- are you working under the assumption that the shooter, the suspect had help, had an accomplice? Was there concern thaw might have a second shooter somewhere in the vicinity?
CREAGER: We had no information in our case that there was anybody else involved. There was only the single suspect seen. He fled on foot alone.
Now whether he got into a car he had or got into a car or there was somebody there waiting to pick him up, we don't know at this stage. We have no indication that there was anybody else involved, but we haven't ruled that out at this stage.
HARRIS: We're heard some conversation about a red pick up or some kind of a vehicle. Can you help with that and whether or not you made any headway in identifying a vehicle?
CREAGER: I don't have any information about a red pick up in reference to a Colorado Springs case.
HARRIS: So you have no information about a vehicle that might have been used in connection with the shooting in your city?
CREAGER: No, we do not.
HARRIS: Okay. Wow. Deputy Chief Creager, thanks for your time. We appreciate it and our best to your community as it deals with this horrible tragedy. Thanks for your time tonight.
CREAGER: Thank you very much.
HARRIS: And tonight the dorm is empty at the youth center with the mission campus in Arvada. Everyone was moved right after the shooting this morning of course. The big question - are they connected? We just tried to pose that to the deputy police chief of Arvada.
Rhonda Scholting is in Arvada tracking the developments in this story from every angle. And Rhonda, I don't know if you were able to hear that conversation that we had with Gary Creager. But I know you've had an opportunity to talk to him as well.
And today maybe you can help us piece some of this still many gaps in the story. Is any of it starting to fall into place for you?
RHONDA SCHOLTING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of it is starting to fall into place, Tony, but still very little of it is. Again the very vague description that we have of the shooter here in Arvada, a man in his 20s who was wearing a dark jacket and dark hat.
But we did have reports from Colorado Springs that the shooter down there at the New Life Church matched the description of the shooter here only though in essence that he was wearing dark clothing.
As you heard the witness talk; he was saying he was wearing combat boots. He also had perhaps a semi automatic weapon. We didn't get that minute of a description here in Arvada as to what exactly the gun may have been that was used in the shooting.
Police are not releasing that at this point. A lot of coincidence today as you can imagine. Two shootings at church-related entities just a few hours apart and a few miles apart really; no exact details as of yet.
HARRIS: Ok, Rhonda we appreciate it. Thanks for your help in telling the story today, horrible that it is. Rhonda Scholting for us in Arvada.
When we come back, we will continue of course our coverage of the two shootings. Two separate shootings, two different houses of worship there in Colorado.
We will talk to the spokesperson for one of the local hospitals there treating some of the wounded in Colorado Springs. And we will also talk to a man, Tom Doyle, affiliated with New Life Church.
That and more after a quick break.
HARRIS: It is now about 12 hours after a lone gunman shot four people in a Denver suburb, a man apparently bearing a similar description pointed a rifle at worshipers at a Colorado Springs mega church. Three victims are in the emergency room at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital.
Amy Sufak, spokeswoman for the hospital is on the phone with us. Amy, great to talk to you, thanks for your time this evening. I'm sorry that it's under these circumstances but thanks for your time.
SUFAK: Absolutely. Today at around 1:30 this afternoon, we received three of the victims from the New Life Church. Two were transported via ground; one came in by private vehicle. All of them are currently still here at the hospital under physician's care. We do have one in critical condition and one in good and one in fair.
HARRIS: Amy, were they conscious when they arrived; were they able to help you in terms of identifying the wounds and help the paramedics in getting to the hospital?
SUFAK: It's unclear to me. I'm not sure if maybe the emergency department knows those details.
HARRIS: At this point once again, if you would, we have one in critical, one in good, and in fair condition?
SUFAK: Absolutely. We do have quite a few of the New Life congregation that is here at the hospital supporting them and praying for them. We are a faith-based hospital and we have a lot of chaplains that are standing by and helping these parishioners as they have come to the hospital.
HARRIS: All right, Amy. Let's leave there. We just wanted to take a moment and get a quick update from you on the condition of those who were in the hospital. Amy, appreciate it and thanks for your time.
SUFAK: You're welcome. Thank you.
HARRIS: And Tom Doyle is on the line with us right now. He is affiliated with New Life Church. Tom, are you on the line with us?
TOM DOYLE, NEW LIFE CHURCH: Yes, I am.
HARRIS: Tell me if you would, tell us and explain your affiliation with New Life, if you would please.
DOYLE: Well, I go to New Life Church and I'm not one of the pastors. I'm one of the missionaries that represents the church.
HARRIS: That's it, that was what I was looking for. You're one of the missionaries that attends the church. Tom, if you would, my understanding is that you had actually left the church before the shooting took place? Is that correct?
DOYLE: Yes, we were just a few minutes ahead of the shooting and people were going out. It was a normal day. The cars getting in a line going to leave the church and immediately fire trucks and ambulances whizzed by and we thought, "Gee I wonder what that is."
We found out later what was going on. Our hearts and prayers are with the people that are wounded and we pray that everything gets secure there. We just haven't heard a lot in the last three or four hours.
HARRIS: You know, I have to ask you because it's probably a question as we move into Monday and Tuesday of next week. We are probably going to hear a lot about church security and perhaps if there needs to be a renewed focus on that kind of thing.
Did you feel comfortable with whatever the security was, I'm not going to ask you to describe them, but whatever the security measures were in place at the church, do you feel comfortable with them?
DOYLE: Yes, we really thought everything was secure. The church at times has been in the news for various things and it usually has some threats like other places get, but nothing that seemed to be very serious.
Today just seemed like a regular Sunday. In fact, it's amazing how God is preparing the congregation in that there was a message today from the pastor from California. He spoke of Christmastime and Christ filling our hearts and for us to go forward in faith and not have fear.
It was a tremendous sermon about Jesus and what he brings to us as believers. Who knew that we would be preparing for this?
HARRIS: How do you expect the congregants to respond to this? DOYLE: Well, I think it's just going to bring them together. We know that there are a lot of New Lifers down at the hospital. There are prayer groups going on all over the city. I know that people up in Denver are calling and someone across Europe just called saying, "We were following this and we are praying."
The believers are strong and together and praying that everybody is going to be fine. And that God is going to get a great victory out of this.
HARRIS: Well, Tom, we appreciate your time this evening. I'm so sorry it's under these circumstances. Tom Doyle is a missionary with New Life Church. Tom thanks for your time.
DOYLE: Thank you. God bless you.
HARRIS: And we are getting a statement from New Life Church. Here's senior pastor Reverend Brady Boyd.
REV. BRADY BOYD, SENIOR PASTOR, NEW LIFE CHURCH: We had an incident at the church this afternoon around 1:00 p.m. We had, fortunately for New Church, we had a detailed plan in place that was put into effect immediately. People were evacuated in a safe place. I'm very, very proud of the team here at New Life Church and the way they responded to a difficult situation.
Because of the incident in Denver this morning, our safety teams here at New Life Church had beefed up their security at New Life because we are always aware of the possibility of something dangerous happening in the world we live in.
HARRIS: And once again as we go to break, two separate shootings in places of worship in Colorado.
Let's talk about the shooting in Colorado Springs for a moment. Police say a suspect has been detained in the church parking lot shooting. Some conflicting information there; some witnesses saying that the gunman actually entered the foyer of the New Life Church and three victims now being cared for at Penrose-St. Francis Hospital. We will take a break and come back with more of our continuing coverage right after this.
HARRIS: Back now to our breaking news; shooting rampages at two church-related sites in Colorado. A missionary dorm outside of Denver and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
New Life is one of Colorado's largest mega churches with 10,000 members. It was founded by the Reverend Ted Haggard. You will recall Haggard was fired in a sex scandal last year. A former male prostitute alleged Haggard was his client for three years and bought drugs from him. Haggard admitted to, "sexual immorality" and called himself a deceiver and a liar in a letter to his congregation.
(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP) REV. TED HAGGARD, FOUNDER, NEW LIFE CHURCH: They are going through the process of investigation and finding out what needs to be done to me. I called him to buy some meth.
HARRIS: Josh Levs joins us now. You know in a situation like this often one of the questions we want to know and find out is how common is something like this. And we're talking about shootings at places of worship and I don't know if there any hard numbers out there.
JOSH LEVS: Not exactly but that's what we were looking into. Because you know, you and I we're reporting on this today. And as you report on it, you get that deja vu. When you are in our industry, getting deja vu with something like this, no matter how awful it is, even though it is unique.
So what I want to do is trace you through some of the recent examples where similar things did happen. And then try to give you a broader perspective about the frequency.
Let's start with some of the ones that we here at CNN have reported on. We are going to bring you back to Neosho, Missouri. And this was just in August, it was not long ago. Just a few months back, do you remember this one?
HARRIS: Yes, I do.
LEVS: This is a guy with a semi-automatic pistol who stormed the stormed this southwestern Missouri church where his own relatives were praying. He opened fire in there and he killed three people.
We can go back farther but still this year to Moscow, Idaho. That was in May. This was a gunman who actually began outdoors and then ended up moving his shooting spree inside when he was in Idaho and ended up killing someone inside a church there.
And I will just tell you about one more which is going back last year to 2006. That took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And we have a third incident -- there you go. That was in Baton Rouge on May 21st 2006, when a man named Anthony Bell went to a local church shot and killed four people.
So I have been going through some list we have here and some of our CNN coverage. And you do see several examples of killings taking place -- shootings generally -- at religious institutions. And it's not always churches.
There is one more that I'll mention that we covered last year. This was a Jewish Institution the Jewish Federation in Seattle where you may recall somebody went into the Jewish federation there and opened fire.
So religious institutions have indeed come under fire; there are these instances of violence scaring a lot of people. HARRIS: You're right. When we sit in these chairs, we have this sense of deja vu and the mind starts to click, "yeah, yeah, yeah," and there you go.
LEVS: I will tell you there was a study in the Journal of Criminal Justice. This is actually interesting. It's a couple of years ago but they got in touch with ministers around the country and they asked them, "Are you concerned about violence and is it getting better or is it getting worse?"
Well, what they found was that over all, violence was low. But everybody was feeling like it was getting worse. They said they were hearing more about it. They are more concerned about it. They needed to add more plans in about what to do in cases like that. That has been spreading the last few years as we see more of this.
HARRIS: It just feels like a very difficult five or six days with this set of episodes today at the two places. We are talking about places of peace and worship and then you think back to last weekend with the shooting rampage in Omaha at the mall. So it just feels like --
LEVS: You need to be safe. And especially in religious institutions or any of these places. People go there to feel safe and so it takes something away the more you hear about it. It really removes something.
But Tony, if I can. There's one more thing I want to do here. That is kind of a broader reality check on this kind of thing. Because we hear so much about killings but keep in mind we report on them because they are rare.
So while they are scary, they are rare. And I want to give you this broader view about deaths in America. We have a chart here that I have asked our folks to pull up. It's about leading causes of death in America. Because every time I cover a case like this, authorities tell me the same thing.
First of all, these are the leading causes of death in America. Heart disease is number one. Accidents down at five. Homicide in America is just a portion of 1 percent and that figure is actually even higher than your real risk because most people who get killed know the people who are killing them.
Which means, the actual chances of being killed in a random spree, a mall or church or wherever is very, very small. It's tiny in America. So what the authorities say to me when I come to them. They say, "You know what? If people want to protect themselves best things they can do, don't smoke, eat well, take care of your health, wear a seatbelt. That will do more for you than being terrified when you go to a church."
TONY HARRIS, CNN, ANCHOR: It makes all the sense in the world, probably a bitter pill, given the events of the last couple of days.
LEVS: So wrong. It shouldn't happen. HARRIS: Josh, appreciate it. Thanks.
Breaking news here on CNN. The latest on today's two separate shooting incidents at two locations in Colorado.
Here's what we know at this moment. Just after midnight, a gunman walks into a Christian Missionary Center near Denver and opens fire. Two staffers both in their 20s are killed. Two others are wounded, one badly and the shooter got away. Then a few hours later, 80 miles away in Colorado Springs, a man starts shooting at people outside an enormous church, one of those mega churches. Nobody is killed, but several are hurt and details about the gunman whether he was killed or arrested is still not a hundred percent clear.
The latest information from police in Colorado Springs is that they have a suspect in custody and we are awaiting official word on that from a news conference. It was originally scheduled for 7:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. mountain time. That has been delayed obviously. Another question -- are the shootings linked? That we also don't know. More on this breaking news story in just a moment. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: And hello again everyone, I'm Tony Harris. News continues to break and new developments are coming into the CNN NEWSROOM every few minutes or so. About the shocking one, two punch of violence today in Colorado. Guns and death and innocent victims in places dedicated to peace and faith. The whens we know, the whys, well those are much more difficult questions to answer.
HARRIS (voice-over): Colorado's horrible day of sudden violence and needless death started here just outside Denver. It was technically Sunday morning, Saturday night really just after midnight, a group of young missionaries in training were cleaning up after a Christmas dinner. Then it happened. Witnesses say a man, a young man appeared out of the darkness. He asked for a room for the night and they said they couldn't help him. He didn't answer. Instead he started shooting. Four people went down. The mysterious shooter took off. Two of his four victims would later die. It's enough for the people of one state to handle, but 12 hours later and 80 miles away, a man dressed in black opens fire outside one of those mega churches in Colorado Springs. We know there casualties, but we don't know the extent. A suspect is reportedly in custody. Two facilities dedicated to faith, all victims either worshippers or selfless workers, are the two incidents linked? With all that Colorado police have to deal with already, investigators are definitely looking into a possible connection.
One day, two shooting incidents may be linked, may be not. Police all over the state are ruling nothing out at this stage in their investigation. We are waiting for a police news conference to begin in Colorado Springs. We can show you the location right now. We believe that is the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and the man who will be leading that conference is Lieutenant Fletcher Howard of the Colorado Springs Police Department. When that news conference begins, we may try to squeeze that for you so that we can see that moment when it begins together. We will, of course, bring it you live here in the NEWSROOM.
In the meantime, we do know the names and ages of the two young people who died after the attack near Denver. Tiffany Johnson from Minnesota. She was 26 years old. Phillip Crouse. He was from Alaska, 24 years old. Both were staffers at the live-in training center and two of their colleague are in the hospital and one of them is in critical condition. The man who opened fire at the mega church in Colorado Springs apparently didn't try to hide. One man witnessed the shooting spree and apparently was shot, spoke to reporters in Colorado Springs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was inside. You want me to ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Well, go ahead. Keep talking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ran in al the way from the cafeteria as people were running and I saw them. Nobody was doing anything. So, I jumped out and that's when he was there and now he peeked out around and I was trying to distract him. And then this female officer came. I've been in combat. This was the coolest shooting I've ever seen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is he wearing? What does he look like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the typical garb, the combat boots, an automatic assault rifles, strapped this way. He had at least, well I saw one but I have been hit with buck shot so I can't, I couldn't see a shotgun. So, I don't know what the deal was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Perry Swanson is a newspaper reporter in Colorado Springs. He writes for the "Gazette" and has been talking with witnesses and with family members of some of the victims. He joins us by phone. Perry, good to talk to you. I'm just sort of curious, man, what an unlikely setting for such a crime. I would imagine that the people you have talked to today are still in a bit of a state of shock.
PERRY SWANSON, "GAZETTE," REPORTER (on the phone): They are definitely in a state of shock. I talked to I would say a couple dozen friends and family members who came here. They had actually left the church when their service ended about 12:45. And then their phones just started ringing off the hook and they came back to the New Life campus just to see if they could learn anything. And as you've indicated in your reporting, there is still a lot of unanswered questions about what happened here.
HARRIS: Hey, Perry, I'm curious from the people you have talked to, have they been able to piece together some kind of chronology when you've asked the what happened question that begins to make sense in terms of some kind of a timeline chronology here. SWANSON: Not really. Just from what I understand, New Life Church has a well-rehearsed evacuation plan with its staff and they just swung that into motion as soon as they knew that something was happening. I understand that the staff people just yelled at those in the church to don't grab anything and to just come with us and they evacuated to the basement of the World Prayer Center, which is a large building on the New Life campus.
HARRIS: Do you get a sense from the people you talked to of how many shots were heard?
SWANSON: No. I don't know how many shots were heard.
HARRIS: OK. What has been sort of the general reaction? I know it's just been shock, but if you would just give us a sense of some of the comments. The actual comments that folks have made. I'm sure they will be featured in your piece tomorrow. What did people say to you?
SWANSON: Yes. The people were obviously shocked. I think there is sort of an underlying story here that a number of people are talking about. And that is that the New Life Church is still reeling from maybe a year ago as Pastor Ted Haggard here was revealed to have been seeing a male prostitute. He ended up resigning from the church because of that scandal and the church hasn't really recovered. So there were a number of people who told me that this is just started another shock for them.
HARRIS: What do you mean when you say the church hasn't really recovered, I'm assuming there is a new reverend, a new pastor in place. So, what do you mean and what were people telling you when they said the church hasn't really recovered?
SWANSON: You know, I think they feel like they are still in the spotlight. They don't like the spotlight. It was kind of an embarrassing time for them.
SWANSON: So, they have lost a number of members over that and they just kind of wanted to go on with their lives. Obviously, this makes it a little more difficult.
HARRIS: Hey, Perry. It was just some reporting that seemed to be in a bit of conflict with other reporting. Some witnesses seem to be reporting that the gunman actually entered the foyer of the church. Have you heard that from anyone you spoke with?
SWANSON: No, I haven't. What I understand is that the gunman stayed on the outside of the church and all the shots happened in the parking lot.
HARRIS: This is the south end parking lot on that campus? Is that what you're hearing?
SWANSON: Yes, that's right. It's kind of southeast. HARRIS: OK. Perry, we appreciate it and we look forward to reading the piece in the paper tomorrow in the "Gazette." Perry Swanson writes for the "Gazette" in Colorado Springs. And Perry. We are standing by waiting for the news conference to begin with the Colorado Springs Police Department there at New Life Church. We are expecting to hear from Lieutenant Fletcher Howard. A news conference was scheduled to begin at the top of the hour, 7:00 p.m. Eastern time and 5:00 p.m. mountain time, but it has been delayed. And hopefully that means there will be more information to share in this briefing when it gets underway. We will of course, bring it to you live here in the CNN NEWSROOM. But first, a break.
HARRIS: OK. Let's quickly get you out to Colorado Springs right now. This is Lieutenant Fletcher Howard of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
LT. FLETCHER HOWARD, COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE DEPT.: We will give a couple of opening remarks and have the mayor come up and say a few words followed by the chief of police and then Pastor Boyd will speak and then a member from the fire department will go ahead and address you.
Good afternoon. My name is Lieutenant Fletcher Howard. I'm with the Colorado Springs Police Department. At 1:13 this afternoon, we received a call of a shooting here at New Life Church. The first officer arrived on the scene at 1:15 this afternoon. At that, I will have the mayor come up and say a few words and the chief of police will come up and address you as far as the facts of this particular case. Mayor.
MAYOR LIONEL RIVERA, COLORADO SPRINGS: Thank you, Lieutenant. It's a sad and a tragic day in Colorado Springs. This is not the kind of things you expect in our community. But it is an ongoing investigation being led by the Colorado Springs Police Department in cooperation with multiple agencies in the region, our own Colorado Springs Fire Department. As Lieutenant Howard stated, our police department was on scene within two minutes of being dispatched. This is and it's important to note that this is an ongoing investigation and that means the amount of information that we will be able to provide to you will be limited. And I'm going to turn it over to Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers to give you more information. It's Lionel Rivera.
CHIEF RICHARD MYERS, COLORADO SPRINGS: Good evening. I am Chief Richard Myers, Colorado Springs Police Department. At 1:10 this afternoon, the Colorado Springs Communications Center received a call of an active shooter at New Life Church. The first officer arrived on the scene approximately three minutes later. When the officers arrived, they found that the active shooter had been shot by a security staff member of the church. A courageous security staff member who probably saved many lives today. The suspect was subsequently found to be deceased. We also have multiple gunshot victims from the scene. One victim expired at the scene. We had four additional gunshot victims who were transported to the hospital. Some of those victims have life-threatening injuries.
Currently, the Colorado Springs Police Department and El Paso County sheriff's office S.W.A.T. teams are methodically going about clearing the multiple buildings here at New Life Church. They have made an initial assessment of the building and are now doing a secondary search along with our explosives ordinance unit. There are several suspicious devices that were identified and at this point we are taking all precautions to make sure that no one is in harm's way.
We would like to express gratitude for many agencies that are here assisting us. Sheriff Terry Maketa from the El Paso County Sheriff Office and his staff are here assisting. We are here conducting this operation under a unified command between the CSPD and Colorado Springs fire. Deputy Chief Steve Leibowitz of the police department and Battalion Chief Tony Cerone from the fire department are co- incident commanders. We also have the FBI here, Don Shannon is assisting us with logistical investigative support and we have Trevor Velanor from ATF and ATF is also providing support. At this point, we would like to provide Pastor Boyd an opportunity to address the public as well. Pastor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, can you tell us the name of the security guard?
REV. BRADY BOYD. NEW LIFE CHURCH: First of all, what happened today was a real tragedy. People lost their lives today. They came to church to worship and came to church with their families to worship and what happened today was a real tragedy. And as a pastor, my heart is broken today for people that lost their lives. It's unfortunate that we live in a society where this happens but it does. Our church has gone through difficult times in the past. Our church will survive and do well. I'm proud of the way our team responded today. We had a plan in place as you I told you before. It worked well. Many, many lives were saved because of the quick action of some committed volunteers at our church. I want to call for the city of Colorado Springs to pray for the families that is.
At the top of our list as a church is to pray for the families that are injured and that lost loved ones today. There were many people in the church who witnessed what happened and we are moving quickly to provide pastoral care for those people. I want to give a phone number for anyone that needs immediate counsel. They can call our main church switchboard 594-6602. And they will get immediate help. We will have a team of people ready tomorrow and available tomorrow to meet with anyone who needs crisis or trauma care. That's what the church does. We will provide that tomorrow.
I just want to say thank you again to the police and to the multiple agencies that responded. I watch the events unfold from my second floor office and within a moment of hearing gunshots, the police were on the scene and the building was secured and our people were safe. As a pastor and leader of the church, I am just so grateful for the courageous men and women who served in our law enforcement agencies and the way they responded today and took control of the situation. They have been extremely professional and I'm grateful to live in a city where we have such professionals serving us. Again, please pray for our church and pray for the people who are injured. Thank you so much for your prayers already and the outpouring of support that we've already received. We are thankful to live in a city that cares for one another the way we do. Again, our prayers are with the families who were hurt today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pastor, you were talking about victims. Are you saying more than one person died? I want to be clear here. He said victim, earlier.
BOYD: We had again as the police chief said, the suspect has expired on the scene. We had a member of our church die today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about that person?
BOYD: I don't know the person personally. I'm new to the church and I don't know them but I will get to know the family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you observe from your window? What did you observe?
BOYD: What I experienced from my window was surreal like it would be for any of you. I heard gunshots and my assistant came in and said shots had been fired in the building and we immediately took precautions to get safe. The first thing I did was call my wife to make sure she was not in the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many people were on the church campus at the time it happened?
BOYD: It's about 7,000 people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were on site?
BOYD: Yes, around 7,000 people. Those are all the questions that I can answer today. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was your name again? I'm sorry.
BOYD: Brady Boyd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
HOWARD: Now, I would like to introduce firefighter Julie Stone who will talk about the fire department resources that have been provided for us this afternoon. Julie.
LT. JULIE STONE, FIRE DEPT.: Hi. Lieutenant Julie Stone for the Fire Department. Again, as the chief said, this is a multi-agency response. We have provided support not only on the medical side for the injured but as well as providing support for the police officers in their ongoing activities here. We have numerous units on scene including our hazmat team. We will be on scene as long as the police department requires us. One of the things that we are actively doing right now is sheltering those folks that were on scene that are going to have to be interviewed and we placed them over at Pikes Peak Community College. So, we will be taking care of those people as long as they need to be sheltered here. One of the things that we want to put out there, if there people that witnessed this incident and have left the scene, we ask that they call into the police department at 444-7000. Because their information may be important. Again, we have tried to keep as many people here that we need to get their statements and to provide comfort and care for them, but if people have left the scene and have information, please call into the police department. Again, we will try to brief you again around 10:00. As our operations expand, we will have our operations chief come in to speak to you. But at this point the fire department is mainly in a support role at this time. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What can you tell us about the (inaudible)
STONE: All I know is that the police department is actively searching for suspicious items. As long as they are here, our hazmat team will be on scene to respond accordingly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many people are you sheltering?
STONE: You would have to ask that question to police operations. At this time I don't have exact numbers as to how many people we're still sheltering. That's it for now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a connection between the shootings this morning in Arvada and this one?
HOWARD: What I'd like to say is this is an ongoing homicide investigation. There is only so much information we can provide at this time because this investigation will be continuing on to tomorrow. So, as we get more information, myself or the lieutenant will provide that information to you. I would like to say that all the main arterials are open throughout and around the church. If there are any witnesses that are still out there but have not come forward, would you please give us a call at 444-7000. We will have an update for you at 10:00 p.m. We will do it at the POC which is located at 705 South Arvada so it's a little warmer for everybody that's out here. That's all for questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us the shooter's identification?
HOWARDS: I think we are getting the full measure of the horrible events that transpired in Colorado today. A press conference wrapping up just moments ago. You watched it here live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Lieutenant Fletcher Howard of the Colorado Springs Police Department was the first speaker and the last speaker. Chief Richard Myers, chief of the Colorado Springs Police Department on hand as well. You heard from Reverend Brady Boyd of New Life Church.
You also heard, briefly, from the mayor of Colorado springs, Lionel Rivera and then a spokesperson from the fire department there in Colorado Springs. The police department receiving a 911 call at about 1:13. Anywhere from 1:10 to 1:13 mountain time of a shooting at New Life Church. The first units responded to the scene about two minutes later. And when the first units arrived, they found the shooter had been shot and killed by a security staff member there of New Life Church. And you heard the mayor and the police chief commenting on the fact that that security guard probably saved a lot of lives today. The additional horrible news is that one person, one congregate, one member of New Life Church was killed at the scene. We will continue to recap this story in this news conference in just a moment. But first, let's take a quick break and be back in the CNN NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: The fire officials, police Officials are just wrapping up a news conference in New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado and we are getting really a fuller picture of what happened there today, particularly in Colorado Springs where one church member of New Life was killed today by a shooter who was himself killed by a security staff member there at New Life Church. I want to play you a bit of the sound from just a couple of moments ago at that news conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF RICHARD MYERS, COLORADO SPRINGS: One victim expired at the scene. We had four additional gunshot victims who were transported to the hospital. Some of those victims have life-threatening injuries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: We know that at least three of those vehicles are being cared for right now at Penrose Saint Francis Hospital. Something else worth noting here, the FBI, the local police are also and also the fire department are also being very vigilant right now at that church because several suspicious devices have been located there at the church.
What's going on now is a room by room, building by building search of that enormous campus there at the New Life Church campus. Just to make sure that all of those suspicious devices check out. That is work that is going on right now. You heard the spokesperson from the fire department say that a number of people are being cared for right now and that there are teams being put together even as we speak who will be available to offer any counseling that might be needed by folks who witnessed the shocking events of this day and we also received word a little earlier that there are several members of the New Life family that made their way to Penrose Saint Francis Hospital to be there to support the family victims, the family members of the victims of today's shooting.
Again, three of the victims are being treated at that hospital. We know that a total of four have been taken to a local hospital, some with life-threatening injuries. Just a shocking day. And just to remind you again earlier this morning just after midnight, a gunman walked into a Christian Missionary Center near Denver. This is the town of Arvada and opened fire there. Two staffers both in their 20s were killed and two others were wounded. And one, we understand is in serious condition and the shooter got away.
We will continue to update this story throughout the evening for you.
I'm Tony Harris, "CNN SIU: Iran, Fact and Fiction" is coming up tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. But next, a special encore edition of our all-star gala honoring this year's CNN HEROES.
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