Since the tragic shootings yesterday at the two churches in Colorado I have been intrigued by the story of Jeanne Assam, the volunteer civilian security guard who took down the shooter at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
I watched an online interview with her this afternoon – her first interview since the shootings – and came away with the knowledge that standing before me was a genuine modern American hero ... and a true soldier of God.
Many in the media will downplay her heroism, for reasons that are obvious to those of us who are schooled in their anti-liberty, anti-Second Amendment, anti-Christian bias. But be not mistaken: Jeanne Assam is indeed an American hero.
Assam, and the other dozen or so civilian security personnel at New Life Church, are all members of the New Life congregation, about half of whom are armed, and all of whom have undergone background checks, have successfully completed gun safety courses, and are licensed to carry. They all volunteer because, as worshippers, they have a 'sense of ownership' at New Life. It is as if they are protecting their own home and family from intruders.
Senior Pastor at New Life, Brady Boyd, stated that Assam came to his office at 7:30 Sunday morning and informed him about the earlier shooting incident in Arvada. She strongly suggested additional security for the day’s services at New Life. Pastor Boyd credits Assam for the heightened security, and for thus preventing significantly more bloodshed.
When twenty-three-year-old Matthew Murray began shooting in the parking lot of the New Life Church a few hours later, all chaos broke loose. Two sisters, Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, were killed as they were getting into their van following the early service. Their father, David Works, 51, suffered two gunshot wounds -- one to the abdomen and one to the groin -- and is listed in fair condition at a local hospital.
Murray wore body armor, and was reportedly equipped with sufficient firepower to bring down hundreds of people (some accounts report that he was carrying as many as five hundred rounds). For those who may believe that this estimate is inflated, consider the fact that reports indicate that approximately seven thousand people were tightly packed within and just outside the church at the time, and each round of Murray’s rifle ammo, if properly placed, might certainly have been capable of taking down several people. The potentiality of hundreds of victims was not at all out of the realm of possibility.
During her interview today, Jeanne Assam stated that she attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during a later service. She has had previous law enforcement experience, has had to draw her weapon countless times in tense situations related to her law enforcement experience, but has never shot anyone before.
I was deeply impressed by her humility, her quiet intelligence, and her humble Christian outlook. At the outset of her comments she stated, 'I want to extend my sympathy to the families of the victims, and of the gunman. And I mean that very sincerely.'
In describing yesterday’s sequence of events at New Life Church she reflected:
The shots were so loud that I thought he was inside. But he wasn’t even inside yet, he was just entering the church. There was chaos as the parishioners ran in all directions.
I just knew what I had to do. It seemed like it was me, the gunman, and God.
I saw him coming through the doors and I took cover. I came out of cover and identified myself, engaged him and took him down. I knew that I could not let this man harm any more people. I said, ‘God, this is you.’ I asked Him to be with me and He never left my side.
I want to do His will and not my will. Where I was weak, God made me strong. He filled me, He guided me, He protected me, and many other people.
Assam fired off about a dozen shots, three of which managed to circumvent his body armor, and all of which were fired while he was moving in her direction.
When she was asked whether the previous day’s tragedy had prevented her from getting a good night’s sleep on Sunday night, she replied that she hadn’t slept a wink.
Assam is unmarried, and currently works for Messenger International, a Christian ministry organization. In connection with her affiliation there, she has found herself at a crossroads in her life and has been seeking to know God’s will for her ... asking Him to provide future direction for her. In an effort to clear her mind in that endeavor, she had been fasting for three days, with the support of other members of the ministry. Sunday was the third day of that fast, and she was in a somewhat weakened state as a result.
Toward the end of the interview, she was asked, ‘What was in your mind when he went down?’ and she responded,
‘How awesome and powerful God is.’
She continued ... ‘I’ve had some quiet time with God and have had a lot of people pray with me. I’m even more in awe of Him than I was before.’
It is people like Jeanne Assam – armed, law-abiding citizens in all walks of life -- church members, teachers, students, pilots, factory workers, white-collar workers, etc. -- who will prevent such future shedding of innocent blood. Law enforcement generally arrives long after such tragedies occur – such as occurred in the recent shooting at the Omaha mall, where the killer accomplished his mission in less than five minutes, and the police didn’t arrive until the mall was awash in innocent blood.
The Second Amendment proved its value this weekend when a legally armed, courageous, cool-headed American citizen saved the lives of many of her countrymen.
God preserve the Second Amendment. And God bless Jeanne Assam.