(Photo: AP / The Gazette, Bryan Oller)
A gunman opened fire at a prominent megachurch in Colorado Springs Sunday afternoon, killing one person and wounding four others. The suspect was shot dead by a church security staff member, the city's police chief reported.
The attack took place at New Life Church at about 1 p.m. when worshippers were just ending an 11 a.m. service. Colorado Springs police Lt. Fletcher Howard said the shootings occurred outside in the church parking lot.
The identity of the man had not been determined Sunday evening, Howard said, according to CNN. Police do not know the motive for the attack.
Several witnesses identified the suspect as a man wearing a black trench coat.
"There were so many people walking through the parking lot, going to their car ... and I remember seeing someone that I thought 'well, that's kind of unusual,'" church member Tom Doyle told CNN.
Doyle, who had left the church in his car just before the shootings, said the possible suspect was wearing a black uniform that "looked a little out of place."
The attack on New Life's worshippers came as a shock to the 10,000-member church. The megachurch had been recovering from last year's alleged sex-and-drugs scandal between the church founder and head pastor, the Rev. Ted Haggard, and a male prostitute and was on a "new course" with their new senior pastor, the Rev. Brady Boyd.
"Everybody's just so happy about the direction ... of the church and really excited," Boyd told CNN.
So Sunday's shooting came "clear out of the blue," the church member said.
"The amazing thing is ... look how God was preparing the church for this," Boyd highlighted. "Pastor Jack Hayford (The Church on the Way in Van Nuys) had just spoken from California and he talked about giving your fears over to God and not being afraid and giving them all over to Jesus.
"And then minutes later, this arose."
One of the wounded reportedly died late Sunday, according to Penrose-St. Francis Hospital spokeswoman Amy Sufak.
Twelve hours earlier, a shooting at a missionary training center in Arvada, Colo., left two people dead and two wounded. Arvada is about 80 miles north of Colorado Springs.
"Obviously, two shootings at two faith-based locations is very concerning to both us and Colorado Springs." Deputy Chief Gary Creager told CNN.
Arvada Police Chief Don Wick said there is reason to believe the shootings are related. Details have not yet been released.
"Until we have evidence which conclusively ties these two events together, Arvada police will continue to follow all leads," Wick said.
The earlier incident occurred at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday at the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) center. YWAM director Peter Warren said the suspect asked whether he could spend the night at the center's dormitory, according to The Associated Press. When told he could not stay, the man opened fire and then left on foot, Warren said.
Witnesses described the gunman as a 20-year-old white male, wearing a dark jacket and skull cap.
The victims of the shooting were identified as Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24. Both died in surgery after the shooting. Two other wounded victims surviving the attack are Dan Griebenow, 24, who was in critical condition, and Charlie Branch, 22.
YWAM which has 1,100 locations trains people ranging from their late teens to their 70s in a 12-week course that prepares them to be missionaries. The Arvada center trains about 300 people a year.