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Probes link one man to 2 Colorado shootings

Matthew Murray killed four at a church and at a missionary school, where he had been a student.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The gunman believed to have killed two people at a training school for missionaries, then two more later at a megachurch, was thrown out of the school a few years ago and had been sending hate mail to the address, police said in court papers yesterday.

The shooter, who was killed at the church, was identified as Matthew Murray, 24, who was homeschooled in what a friend said was a deeply religious Christian household. Murray's father is a neurologist and a leading multiple-sclerosis researcher.

Five people were wounded in the eruptions of violence 12 hours and 65 miles apart.

The first attack took place after midnight Saturday at Youth With a Mission, a training center for missionaries in the Denver suburb of Arvada. The other occurred before 1 p.m. Sunday at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, where Murray was shot to death by a security guard. The training center maintains an office at the 10,000-member church.

"Through both investigations, it has been determined that, most likely," the suspect in both shootings is one and the same, police said in court papers.

Colorado Springs police said the "common denominator in both locations" was Youth With a Mission. "It appears that the suspect had been kicked out of the program three years prior and during the past few weeks had sent different forms of hate mail to the program and-or its director."

A statement from the training center said health problems had kept Murray from finishing the program. It did not elaborate. Murray did not complete the lecture phase or a field assignment as part of a 12-week program, the Youth With a Mission statement said.

Police gave no immediate details on the hate mail. And the training center said that Murray left in 2002 - five years ago, not three - and that no one there could recall any visits or communication from him since then.

Senior Pastor Brady Boyd of New Life Church said the gunman had no connection to the church.

Earlier yesterday, a law-enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity said it appeared Murray "hated Christians."

Investigators have not said whether Murray singled out his victims. The two people killed at the church - sisters Stephanie and Rachael Works, ages 18 and 16 - were frequently at the training center, their uncle, Mark Schaepe of Lincoln, Neb., told the Gazette of Colorado Springs.

The two people killed at the missionary center were identified as Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24.

Authorities searched the Murray house, on a quiet street in Englewood, for guns, ammunition and computers. Murray's father, Ronald, is chief executive of the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center in Englewood. Matthew Murray lived at home along with a brother, Christopher, 21, a student at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.

A neighbor, Cody Askeland, 19, said the brothers were homeschooled, describing the family as "very, very religious."

The gunman opened fire at 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center. Witnesses said the man asked to spend the night there and fired a handgun when he was turned down. Later, at New Life Church, the gunman, carrying a high-powered rifle, opened fire in the parking lot and later walked into the church as a service was letting out.

Jeanne Assam, a church member who volunteers as a security guard, shot and killed Murray. Boyd, the pastor, called her "a real hero."