By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Kneeling in prayer at Denver's Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Kerry Dore lit six candles--one for each of his four children, one for his ex-wife, and one for himself. He had already purchased a pistol and bullets, and he felt that God was guiding him during his final hours on earth.
The 43-year-old ironworker had been praying at the East Colfax cathedral every day for the past six months, desperately trying to find some higher guidance for a life in which everything had gone wrong. His health, his livelihood, his wife and children--all had been lost. Living in constant pain from a horrific accident, he feared for his sanity and prayed for a solution.
What came to him during those feverish months in the spring of 1996, he says, was a troubling "weird light" that seemed to flow into him as he prayed. He couldn't sleep in the presence of the light and became increasingly depressed. More and more, his thoughts turned to the place where his life started to unravel: The three-story, $30 million world headquarters of Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based evangelical group.
"This presence came to me, a light, and it wouldn't go away," Dore says. "It told me to go down there."
Dore had been badly injured while helping to build the Focus on the Family building in 1992. He was sliding down a steel column with 100 pounds of tools strapped around his waist when he lost his grip and was impaled on a twelve-inch rod of rebar sticking up at the base of the column. The iron bar penetrated his leg, buttocks and colon, narrowly missing his spine and puncturing his bladder.
After three surgeries and treatment by several different doctors, Dore was left in continual pain. For a time he was hooked up to a colostomy bag and catheter, and basic bodily functions are now still a source of daily humiliation. Dore has also battled constantly with his employer's insurance company, which used Colorado's employer-friendly workers' compensation law to challenge his disability claims.
Out of work and living on a disability check of $1,126 per month, Dore was further devastated when his marriage fell apart. Tormented by his inability to care for his children, he began plotting revenge against those he blamed for destroying his life.
Focus on the Family was at the top of his list. Dore blamed the group for hiring a non-union contractor that he says cut corners on workplace safety. He was further enraged when he contacted Focus on the Family, asking the organization to help him and his family, and received nothing but a quick visit from a minister and a bouquet of flowers. To Dore, this seemed like outrageous hypocrisy from an organization that claims to be devoted to the preservation of families.
"I don't know how anyone could be so cruel and consider themselves to be these pristine Christians," he says.
As he became more and more delusional, Dore's thoughts turned to self-destruction. If he committed suicide or was killed by the police in the very building where he'd been injured, he thought, the whole world would know what had happened to him. His betrayal by Focus on the Family, his shabby treatment in the workers' compensation system, the medical humiliation he'd endured--no one would be able to ignore it.
"I just wanted people to know they wouldn't help me," he says. "I was going to blow my brains out."
And so on a Thursday morning in May of last year he packed up the .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun he'd bought from a neighbor in north Denver for $100 and the ammunition he'd purchased at a Gart Brothers sporting-goods store. With a red marker, he scrawled a final message to his doctors on his chest: "Make sure I'm dead before de-boweling me for a fourth time." He put on a sleeveless vest and packed several signal flares inside it.
He took the light-rail train to the RTD station at I-25 and Broadway, where he called for a taxi. He had just $67 and asked the driver to head south and keep going till the money ran out. The driver dropped him off just outside the town of Monument, and Dore walked the remaining nine miles to the Focus on the Family building off Briargate Boulevard.
Dore entered the group's main building at 1:30 p.m. He went to the reception desk and pointed his pistol at two employees, tour guide Laurilee Keyes and receptionist Judy Baker. He told them he wanted the facility cleared and that he was carrying explosives and planned to blow up the building. At this point one of the women activated a panic button, which summoned a security guard, Mike Benzie, and a building engineer, Carl Chinn.
To evacuate the building, Benzie set off the fire alarm. While Dore never indicated that Benzie or Chinn had to stay, they chose to remain in the building with the two women. For the next ninety minutes, they listened to Kerry Dore scream and sob as he recounted the injustices done to him by the construction company, Focus on the Family and the workers' compensation system.