Jeanne Assam's Story
Jeanne Assam may not have thought it was her day to be called upon as she got ready to go to Sunday service in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Never the less, she armed herself with her handgun. Jeanne Assam was granted a concealed carry permit by her state government, a right to self preservation that should be indisputably guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Over the years, this right had been eroded by ill guided thinking and politics, but in the past decade the right to keep and bear arms had made a resurgence. Jeanne Assam took advantage of new laws that gave her greater options to defend her own life as well as the lives of others. Because she is a community oriented individual, Jeanne Assam also was willing to place her life at risk to prevent the killing of innocents.
Twelve hours earlier, Matthew Murray had slain two people at a missionary training center, Youth with a Mission, sixty five miles away. Murray was still at large. Ms. Assam was aware of that fact, but that is not why she carried a gun. Jeanne Assam may have strapped a Glock under her jacket. She may have placed a .38 snubbie into her purse. The handgun and her mode of carry really does not matter. Ms. Assam says she was weak from a three day religious fast as she left her home on December 9, for the New Life Church. She had not slept since learning of the previous shootings. She was not weak though. She was not armed with only a handgun. She was armed with the will to use the handgun in the defense of herself and others. Her body may have felt weak, but her conviction and determination was resolute. Along with the pistol, that would be enough.
The wolf violently invaded the flock before Jeanne Assam arrived on the scene. Stephanie and Rachael Works lay dying. Their father, David Works, and Judy Purcell were wounded. A Vietnam combat veteran, Larry Bourbonnais, had found himself unarmed facing the murderer's fury. Two armed security guards, with guns drawn, were frozen, facing an unchecked killer, not acting. Bourbonnais pleaded with one of the men to relinquish his firearm so that a man with the will to kill might be able to persevere against overwhelming and deadly force. The armed man did not respond, continuing to hold a drawn handgun on a frenzied psychopath as though it were some talisman against evil.
Armed only with words, Mr. Bourbonnais used what he had. "First, I called him 'Coward' then I called him 'Shithead.' I probably shouldn't have been saying that in church," said Mr. Bourbonnais told the Denver Post. The gunman turned his assault on Bourbonnais, who survived only by finding concealment behind a non-metaphorical hollow, decorative pillar. Bourbonnais was struck in the arm.
Then another pillar appeared. Not a decorative one, this pillar was a pillar of immutable strength. Jeanne Assam entered the church hallway, approaching the deranged killer, demanding that he surrender....Now. The wolf turned a handgun on the approaching sheepdog. He managed to fire off three shots. Jeanne Assam responded with conviction and courageous determination to live and save others from death as she continued to close on the killer, firing off shot after shot into his body, emptying her gun and putting an end to his bloody rampage.
"I saw him, it seemed like the halls cleared out, and I saw him coming through the doors, and I took cover. I waited for him to get closer, I came out of cover, and I identified myself. I engaged him and I took him down," Jeanne Assam said modestly at a news conference in the Colorado Springs police station. "I didn't think it was my sole responsibility. I didn't think about this. It was, it seemed like it was, me, the gunman and God."
"I didn't run away, and I didn't think for a minute to run away. I just knew that I was given the assignment to end this before it got too much worse," she said. "I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me. I said, 'Holy Spirit, be with me.' My hands weren't even shaking. Honestly, I was very focused, and it was chaotic and it was so loud. I'll never forget the gunshots. It was so loud. I was just focused and I knew I wasn't going to wait for him to do any further damage. I just knew what I had to do."
Sgt. Jeff Johnson of the Colorado Springs Police Department reported that Matthew Murray was carrying two handguns, a rifle, and close to 1,000 rounds of ammunition. He obviously had plans. Investigators have said that Murray, 24, may have, in fact, died of a self inflicted gunshot wound. Autopsies should be cold and clinical things, based on factual evidence and removed from the shifting sands of human interaction. That is well and good. Murray may have brought about his own end. It is indisputable, however, that his killing spree was brought to an abrupt halt by a woman with steel determination, the will to to preserve lives, and a handgun.
George Orwell once said: "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." Sometimes the sheepdog is neither rough, nor a man. That is as it should be. Introduce a woman to shooting today. The life she saves may be your own.