December 9, 2007
The recent plague of U.S. public shootings reached an evangelical organization Sunday when two Youth With a Mission (YWAM) staff members--a man and a woman in their mid-20s--were killed by gunshots at YWAM's Denver-area location in the early morning hours. Two others were wounded in the attack, one critically.
Youth With a Mission has released a statement through their website (www.ywam.org) that reads in part:
Dear YWAM family worldwide... the YWAM Denver (Arvada) Colorado center experienced a tragedy of great proportions in the early hours of Sunday morning, December 9, as two YWAM Denver staff members died at the hands of a lone gunman who entered one of their campus buildings. Two other staff members are currently at a local Denver hospital; one of them is in critical but stable condition. The four had just finished serving at a Christmas Banquet for YWAM staff and students.
OneNewsNow.com reports that the shooting happened at about 12:30 a.m., according to police spokeswoman Susan Medina, and that no arrests have yet been made. About 45 people had to be evacuated from the YWAM dormitory.
Based on eyewitness reports, police are looking for a 20-year-old white male, wearing a dark jacket and skull cap, who may have glasses or a beard.
Medina told CNN.com the lone gunman walked into Youth With a Mission, began shooting and then ran away. Police are using dogs in their search efforts and hoping the fresh snow may help them track the suspect. They are also urging residents to call if they spot anything suspicious.
FOXNews.com reports that the gunman had come to the door of the dormitory seeking shelter, asking if he could spend the night. When told he couldn't stay, the man walked inside and opened fire.
The deceased have been identified by YWAM as Tiffany Johnson, 26, from Minnesota, and Philip Crouse, 24, from Alaska. Both served as staff members at the Youth With A Mission Arvada campus. The third victim, Dan Griebenow, 24, has a bullet in his neck and is listed in critical but stable condition. The fourth victim Charlie Blanch, 22, suffered gunshot wounds to his legs.
It is not believed that any of the victims knew the shooter, according to Peter Warren, the Director of Youth with a Mission Denver. "There's no blueprint for this, we're just going to be honest and pray for one another, cry with one another," Warren told KUSA-TV. "These kids were like our kids, you know? It's just such a tragedy."
A memorial service for Johnson and Crouse will likely be held Tuesday or Wednesday.
Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is an international and interdenominational Christian movement with operating locations in 171 nations, according to the YWAM website. Launched in 1960 as a means for young people to get involved in short-term missionary service, it now has over 16,000 staff working in 1180 centers and trains over 25,000 people each year to be involved in the organization’s primary goal – to know God and make Him known.