More Pieces of the Matthew Murray Puzzle

"The entire unfolding of these events was a shock for us. Matthew had never expressed a desire for violence toward anybody. We had no idea he had ownership of weapons or any plan."

That's Ronald Murray, the neurosurgeon father of New Life Church gunman Matthew Murray, expressing his bewilderment on James Dobson's radio show a couple of weeks ago. Asked why his son would go on a shooting spree last December 9 and kill four people before taking his own life, Murray could only suggest his son had a "depth of bitterness" about his fundamentalist upbringing that his parents never recognized.

The 460-page report on the shootings released by the Colorado Springs Police Department yesterday is largely an account of the confusion the day of the attack — and, thankfully, the quick action by a volunteer security guard, not long after cops alerted by the earlier shootings in Arvada had wandered off.

But it also contains some dissonant notes about the gunman's home life. His father, of course, didn't know about the copious web postings by "nghtmrchld26" swearing revenge against Christians, and (shades of Columbine all over again) was apparently clueless about the stockpile of weapons and smoke grenades that Matthew Murray had assembled. But the senior Murray did tell police about an odd package of rifle ammo that had arrived at the house a week before the shootings -- a little detail that hangs there, unexplained, awaiting the day when the Murrays agree to sit down with a journalist rather than a preacher to hash things out.

Also released was Matthew's handwritten letter to God , found in his car in the aftermath of the killings.

Whatever else the rant may suggest to those trying to get inside Murray's head, it does demonstrate that the gunman, like a lot of ex-believers, never stopped believing at all. He cusses out God and his "stupid book," complaining that the whole thing could have been presented a lot more clearly. "All the Christians I see or meet are miserable, angry, selfish, hypocritical, proud, power hungry, abusive, uncaring, confused, lustful, greedy, unsure of their doctrine and meanspirited," he seethed. "I'm a much nicer person with integrity, I am more sincere and caring for people."

Indeed. Murray must have encountered plenty of uncertain doctrine in his years of home schooling, but he seems to have overlooked the line about "Thou shalt not kill." Confusing as that stupid book might have been at times, Moses and Jesus were both pretty clear about that one. —Alan Prendergast

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun