COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Jeanne Assam appeared before the news media for the first time Monday and said she "did not think for a minute to run away" when a gunman entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and started shooting.
There was applause as Assam spoke to a small crowd saying, "God guided me and protected me."New Life's Senior Pastor Brady Boyd called Assam "a real hero" because the gunman, Matthew Murray, "had enough ammunition on him to cause a lot of damage."
When asked by a reporter if she felt like a hero, Assam said, "I wasn't just going to wait for him to do further damage."
"I give credit to God," she said. Assam described how Murray, entered the east entrance of the church firing his rifle.
"There was chaos," Assam said. "I will never forget the gunshots. They were so loud."
"I saw him coming through the doors" and took cover, Assam said. "I came out of cover and identified myself and engaged him and took him down."
"God was with me," Assam said. "I didn't think for a minute to run away."
Assam said she believes God gave her the strength to confront Murray, keeping her calm and focused even though he appeared to be twice her size and was more heavily armed.
Murray was carrying two handguns, an assault rifle and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, said Sgt. Jeff Johnson of the Colorado Springs Police Department.
"It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," she said.
Assam worked as a police officer in downtown Minneapolis during the 1990s and is licensed to carry a weapon. She attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during another service.
Boyd said Assam was the one who suggested the church beef up its security Sunday following the Arvada shooting, which it did. The pastor credited the security plan and the extra security for preventing further bloodshed.
Boyd said there are 15 to 20 security people at the church. All are volunteers but the only ones armed are those who are licensed to carry weapons.
The security guards are members of the church who are screened and not "mercenaries that we hire to walk around our campus to provide security," Boyd said.
About 7,000 people were on the church campus at the time of the shooting, said Boyd.
Two of the church members killed in the shooting were identified Monday as sisters Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16. Their father, David Works, 51, suffered two gunshot wounds -- one to the abdomen and one to the groin -- and was listed in fair condition on Monday. They were shot in the parking lot as they were getting into their van.
"Our concern is for our family that lost two teenage daughters. Our hearts are grieving," said Boyd. "You can imagine, as parents, losing two children while coming to church, just showing up for a worship service, not bothering anyone."
Boyd said Assam's actions saved the lives of 50 to 100 people.
Assam said she was ending three days of fasting on Sunday when fate put her in the path of the gunman.
"I was praying to God that he direct me" in what to do in life, Assam said. "God made me strong."
In: Regional News
Tags: colorado, shootings, different, outcome
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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