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Two shot dead at missionary center in Colo.

The killings preceded by 12 hours a fatal shooting at a megachurch in Colorado Springs.

Rose Lydah (left) of New Life Church comforts a woman after the shootings there. A source said a guard shot the gunman dead.
Rose Lydah (left) of New Life Church comforts a woman after the shootings there. A source said a guard shot the gunman dead.Read moreBRYAN OLLER / The Gazette

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A gunman killed two staff members at a missionary training center near Denver early yesterday after being told he could not spend the night. About 12 hours later, a gunman fatally shot a person at a megachurch in Colorado Springs before a guard killed him, police said.

The gunman at the New Life Church was shot and killed by a church security guard after entering the church's main foyer with high-powered rifle shortly before 1 p.m. and opening fire, Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers said.

It was not immediately known whether the Colorado Springs shooting was related to the crime in Arvada, a Denver suburb about 65 miles to the north. Authorities in Arvada said no one had been captured in the shootings there.

A church member died of wounds inflicted by the gunman, Senior Pastor Brady Boyd said. Two others were shot and wounded at the church.

The church's 11 a.m. service had recently ended, and hundreds of people were milling about when the gunman opened fire. Nearby were parents picking up their children from the nursery.

Police arrived to find that the gunman had been killed by a member of the church's armed security staff, Myers said.

"There was a courageous staff member who probably saved many lives here today," Myers said.

The New Life Church is one of Colorado's largest, with about 10,000 members. It was founded by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was fired last year after a former male prostitute alleged he had a three-year cash-for-sex relationship with him.

About 7,000 people were on the campus at the time of the shooting, Boyd said. Security at the church had been beefed up after the early morning shootings in Arvada, he said.

The first shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said.

A man and a woman were killed, and two men were wounded, Medina said. All four were staff members of the center, said Paul Filidis, a Colorado Springs-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.

Arvada Police Chief Don Wick said the shooter spent several minutes speaking with people inside a dormitory. Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission Denver, said the man asked whether he could spend the night. Several youths called on Tiffany Johnson, the center's director of hospitality.

"The director of hospitality was called. That's when he opened fire," Warren said. Johnson, 26, was killed.

Warren said he did not know whether any of the students or staff knew the gunman. "We don't know why" he came to the dormitory, Warren said.

Witnesses told police that the gunman was a 20-year-old white male who fled on foot.

Police with dogs searched the area through the night, and residents of nearby homes were notified by reverse 911 to be on the lookout. Medina said residents were asked to look out their windows for any tracks left in the snow during the night. About four inches of snow had fallen in the area in the previous day.

About 45 people were evacuated from the Youth with a Mission dormitory and moved to an undisclosed location.

The missionary center is on the grounds of the Faith Bible Chapel. Darv Smith, director of a Youth With a Mission center in Boulder, said people ranging from their late teens to their 70s undergo a 12-week course that prepares them to be missionaries. He said the center trains about 300 people a year.