Gunman opens fire at church; one suspect in custody

Other News Materials 10 December 2007 02:10 (UTC +04:00)

A black-clad man armed with a rifle opened fire on worshippers at a Colorado Springs, Colorado, megachurch Sunday afternoon, wounding several people, church and hospital officials reported.

Rob Brendle, an associate pastor at New Life Church, said the attack took place inside the church after a late-morning service and that the suspect was fatally shot.

But police spokesman Lt. Fletcher Howard said he could confirm no fatalities, and that all of the shooting occurred outside the church, in the parking lot.

"When we got here, there were victims out here in the parking lot and everyone else was in the church," he said.

He said a suspect was in custody, but police do not know the motive for the attack nor any relationship between the suspect and the victims. Howard would not confirm the number of wounded, but added, "We have some people that are in shock, which is to be expected after an event like this takes place."

Lt. Lari Sevene, a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff's Department, said the attack took place shortly after 1 p.m. and said possibly two or three people were wounded. And Amy Sufak, a spokeswoman for Penrose-St. Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs, told CNN that several victims were taken to the hospital.

The shooting at New Life Church came about 12 hours after a shooting at a missionary training center in Arvada, outside Denver, left two people dead and two wounded. The gunman in that incident is still being sought by police.

As of Sunday afternoon, there was no known connection between the two incidents. Arvada and Colorado Springs are about 70 miles apart.

The non-denominational church is on the northwestern outskirts of Colorado Springs, near the U.S. Air Force Academy. It claims a membership of more than 10,000.

The church was founded by the Rev. Ted Haggard, an evangelical Christian leader who was ousted in 2006 after allegations that he had been a client of a male prostitute from whom he had purchased drugs. Haggard admitted to undisclosed "sexual immorality" and called himself "a deceiver and a liar" in a letter to the congregation.