ARVADA, Colo. — A gunman opened fire in a training center dormitory for young Christian missionaries early Sunday after being told he couldn't spend the night, killing two of the center's staff members and wounding two others.
The shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m. at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, a Denver suburb, police spokeswoman Susan Medina said.
Authorities said no one had been arrested.
A man and a woman were killed and two men were wounded, Medina said. All four were staff members, said Paul Filidis, a Colorado Springs-based spokesman with Youth With a Mission.
The conditions of the people shot outside the New Life Church were not known, El Paso County Sheriff's Lt. Lari Sevene said.
More than 12 hours later, a gunman opened fire in the parking lot of a large Colorado Springs church on Sunday, striking four people, authorities said. Colorado Springs is about 70 miles away from Arvada.
It was not immediately known whether the shootings were related, but Arvada authorities said they were sharing information with Colorado Springs investigators.
The mission training program has a small office at the church's World Prayer Center on the New Life campus, the location of the other attack.
Details of dorm shooting
Arvada Police Chief Don Wick said the suspect spent several minutes speaking with people inside the dorm. Peter Warren, director of Youth With a Mission Denver, said the man asked whether he could spend the night.
When told he couldn't stay, the man opened fire, then left on foot, Warren said.
Warren said he didn't 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, wearing a dark jacket and skull cap, who left on foot. He may have glasses or a beard.
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 4 inches of snow had fallen in the area in the past day.
Brady White, who attends Faith Bible Chapel, where the center is located, said students he spoke to called the experience "terrifying."
"They're just wonderful people," White said of the center's students. "Their mission is to know God and to make him known."
Police identified the victims as Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 23. Youth With a Mission said Johnson was from Minnesota and Crouse was from Alaska. Their hometowns weren't immediately available.
About 45 people were evacuated from the dormitory and moved to an undisclosed location.
Cheril Morrison, wife of chapel pastor George Morrison, said Crouse had just hung up Christmas lights at her home and Johnson was "an amazingly beautiful person."
One of the injured men was hospitalized in critical condition and the other was in stable condition, police said. Both are in their 20s.
Mimi Martin, who lives near the center, said she received the warning call at about 9 a.m. warning neighbors to keep their doors and windows locked.
"Why would anybody want to hurt those kids?" Martin said. "I just pray for their families."
Chapel holds services
People bundled up against freezing cold attended Sunday services at the sanctuary, about 300 yards from the dormitory on the campus of the Faith Bible Chapel. Police kept tight security on the chapel grounds.
"We never doubted that we would have a service," said Cheril Morrison. "We felt like our church faithful all needed to be together."
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.
Filidis said staffers are usually former missionaries themselves and that the "mercy ministries" performed by trainees include orphanage work. He said he didn't know where the group being trained in Arvada was going to be sent.
Youth With a Mission was started in 1960 and now has 1,100 locations with 16,000 full-time staff, Smith said. The Arvada center was founded in 1984.
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