Patterico's Pontifications


The Security Guard/Parishioner Who Stopped the Colorado Church Shooter (Updated x4)

Filed under: Crime,Second Amendment — DRJ @ 3:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

UPDATE 4: After seeing Assam interviewed on Fox News, I can’t tell what she was. She discussed her law enforcement background and that she was part of a “professional security team.” It’s possible she was hired to work security or that she volunteered to be part of a security team. So I reinserted the term “Security Guard” in the title.

UPDATE 3: I’ve changed the title to strike through “Security Guard” because it’s unlikely this was a paid security guard. Instead, it was probably a parishioner with a CCW permit. However, at least one blogger notes the media is uniformly portraying her as a security guard instead of as an armed individual. Maybe this is because, in the rush to get the story out, the “security guard” terminology became set in stone. On the other hand, maybe not.

UPDATE 2: Powerline quotes a report that the gunman “hated Christians” and notes that “the toll in Sunday’s shootings exceeded the combined total in all ‘hate crimes’ against Muslims in the six years since September 11.”

UPDATE 1: CNS News reports the volunteer security guard was a church member “dressed in plain clothes” who used her own gun and “probably saved 100 lives.” It also quotes a KUSA report that the gunman, 24-year-old Matthew Murray, “was wearing a “tactical helmet and body armor.”

Also from JayHub, here’s a Denver Post article on the courageous actions by a male Vietnam Vet and a female volunteer security guard who stopped the Colorado church shooter:

“[Vietnam War Vet Larry] Bourbonnais, 59, had just finished up a hamburger in the cafeteria on the sprawling church campus when he heard gunfire, he recalled. Bourbonnais headed in the direction of the shots as frightened people ran past him looking to escape to safety. “Where’s the shooter? Where’s the shooter?” Bourbonnais kept yelling, he recalled.

Near an entryway in the church, Bourbonnais came upon the gunman and an armed male church security guard who was there with his gun drawn but not firing, he said. Bourbonnais said he pleaded with the armed guard to give him his weapon.

“Give me your handgun. I’ve been in combat, and I’m going to take this guy out,” Bourbonnais recalled telling the guard. “He kept yelling, ‘Get behind me! Get behind me!’ He wouldn’t hand me his weapon, but he wouldn’t do anything.” There was an additional armed security guard there, another man, who also didn’t fire, Bourbonnais said.

Bourbonnais yelled at the gunman to draw his attention, he said. “First, I called him ‘Coward’ then I called him ‘S—head’ ” Bourbonnais said. “I probably shouldn’t have been saying that in church.”

That’s when the shooter pointed one of his guns at Bourbonnais and fired, he said. Bourbonnais ducked behind a hollow, decorative pillar and was hit in the arm by a bullet and fragments of the pillar.

At about that moment, a female guard with a drawn handgun turned a corner and walked toward the gunman and yelled “Surrender!” Bourbonnais said.

The gunman pointed a handgun at the woman and fired three shots, Bourbonnais said. She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round. The female guard fired off about a dozen shots.

After the gunman went down, Bourbonnais asked the woman, who has only been identified as a volunteer security guard with the church, how she remained so calm and focused. Bourbonnais said she replied: “I was asking the Holy Spirit to guide me the entire time.”

This is an amazing story.

An earlier post on the shootings is here.


59 Responses to “The Security Guard/Parishioner Who Stopped the Colorado Church Shooter (Updated x4)”

  1. She’s awesome. I love her. Even if I disagree with her religious doctrines and terminology, I agree with her love of God and her fellow man. Good shot!

    JayHub, this link’s for you, although you others might find it interesting too.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. Jeanne Assam, the security guard, is currently speaking at the Colo Spgs police press conference. She is discussing her experiences this weekend.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. FoxNews has the link for the press conference if you’re not by a TV.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  4. She’s very impressive; I hope that I could be as calm and collected in these circumstances (both the encounter with the goblin and with the press!) Very well done, madam.

    htom (412a17)

  5. The two armed “guys” don’t shoot; the unarmed real guy tries to draw the psycho’s fire to himself; and the “gal” behaves like she has enough balls for the whole MLB season*. Amazing.

    *Post-season and World Series too.

    nk (26f031)

  6. Good woman. That entire congregation should have nothing but praise, gratitude, respect and admiration for her – and, while perhaps trying to work up a little compassion for them, still, a good deal of indignation and disgust for the two armed male security guards who refused to shoot, or at least turn over their weapon to the guy unarmed guy who was risking his life and who was who was willing to shoot.

    Augustine (b42925)

  7. Augustine, its early to be condemning people in this situation.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  8. You’re right, SPQR. While eventually I think it more likely than not Augustine and nk’s comments will be proven to be true regarding (one of) those guard(‘s)(s’) actions, it is too soon. We don’t know if (he) (they) had a clear shot, etc. After all, they’re volunteer security guards at a Christian church not WW2 Bomber Command airplane captains willing to inflict collateral damage to avenge the Blitz… I wouldn’t expect them to plug rounds into parishioners’ children to shoot the bad guys.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  9. She’s my hero!

    (How soon till the media attacks her?)

    Patricia (aaa977)

  10. DRJ, the security guard vs. parishioner distinction is interesting, but I caught the tail end of the news conference. She said she was “supposed” to be carrying her weapon that day and while I can’t remember the wording, I got the distinct impression she was assigned security duties that day, although she may well have been an unpaid volunteer (I don’t know).

    So I think the media might have the terminology correct or at least nearer than the alternative you propose. In reality, she was probably both.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  11. Further, this article says:

    “She attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during another service.”

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  12. Pastor Boyd specifically stated at the news conference that the security personnel were volunteers from among the church members. He contrasted them with “mercenaries” – an unfortunate choice of terminology in my opinion.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. She is a parishoner with a law enforcement background and carry permit who serves as a security guard. Pastor Boyd says she normally stands near him during the second service but was in the middle of the rotunda Sunday after news of the Arvada shootings. She’s an ordinary parishoner during the first service.

    I doubt Bourbonnais’ account that a male security guard was armed with gun drawn and refused to fire. Boyd said the woman guard was the only one carrying a handgun.

    steve (247d20)

  14. Bourbannis and the woman are genuine heroes.

    I’m not much for the theory that the Holy Spirit protected some people while letting others die; I find it a particularly vexatious view after speaking to plenty of relatives of the prematurely deceased.

    But, hey, whatever works. People were getting killed out there. The people with the courage – from whatever source – were the ones that saved lives. The killer should be forgotten as quickly as possible, the victims should be remembered, and the heroes should be recognized.


    JRM (de6363)

  15. Yes, it appears that she was, in fact, part of deliberately beefed-up security because of the previous day’s shootings. Also that she was an unpaid volunteer. I don’t think that the distinction is that important. The fact remains that armed citizens are often the only line of defense against gun-toting nutcases.

    CraigC (cbd74e)

  16. Dammit, link didn’t work.

    CraigC (cbd74e)

  17. I hope this HERO can be protected from the jackals in the media. If she wants to identify herself, it is up to her. Everyone should leave her alone, except for expressing their profound thanks.


    Dave (a7494c)

  18. Dave, she appeared this afternoon at the Colo Spgs PD press conference.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. I’ve had a PA permit to carry for 20 years, and like many, once treated it as something I’d take along in weird situations, at first. No. You learn how to use the damn thing, and you keep yourself current, so that when the big day comes, you react like this woman did. Good for her.

    driver (faae10)

  20. DRJ – “the gunman hated Christians”

    Tragic story obviously. Where was this guy coming from? Brought up in a conservative Christian home, home schooled, worked for a while at the missionary center he shot up. Puzzling.

    JayHub (0a6237)

  21. A core liberal belief is shaken – she didn’t need the government to protect either herself or other church members.

    Remember that at Columbine (also in Colorado) the “trained” SWAT team secured the school four hours after Harris and Klebold killed themselves. Had they not killed themselves, Harris and Klebold could have kill hundreds of students before the inept SWAT team stopped them. Shameful. Heavily armed and armored SWAT members, meeting no resistance whatsoever, took four hours to secure the building.

    Fortunately this church didn’t have to rely on SWAT team.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  22. DRJ – “the gunman hated Christians”

    That’s a risky shorthand version.

    AP: “A law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity said it appeared that Murray hated Christians.”

    steve (247d20)

  23. Perfect Sense, Columbine was a bit more complicated than that. The delays in entering the school are attributable to police leadership. The actual SWAT team members were literally begging to be allowed to move in faster.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  24. Christoph,

    I appreciate your point. My point is that she was not a professional security guard nor was she paid by the church to perform that function. To me, it’s no different than a person who volunteers to cook for the Wednesday morning breakfast. Doing that doesn’t make him/her a professional chef.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  25. Steve #23,

    I did not state, from personal knowledge, that “the gunman hated Christians.” My statement was based on the Powerline quote that I linked and excerpted. For that matter, the Powerline quote was based on a report and we all know reports can be wrong.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  26. “It is perhaps worth noting that the toll in Sunday’s shootings exceeded the combined total in all “hate crimes” against Muslims in the six years since September 11.” – Powerline

    In what universe is that blog operating?

    steve (247d20)

  27. “…She returned fire and just kept walking toward the gunman pressing off round after round.,,”

    Close and engage.

    Guts and determination.

    Hey Christoph, did she leave home in the morning saying she was going to kill someone?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  28. Gun Ownership works. If he had no gun he would have found another way to kill the Christians he hated so much. Her handgun ownership saved lives.,

    Dennis D (cdb678)

  29. Now thats one GAL I would never cheat on. In fact I am not sure I would have the balls to date her.

    Dennis D (cdb678)

  30. Steve #27,

    Your link proved them right. Want to look at it again?

    nk (26f031)

  31. #24 I respectfully disagree.

    Two dead teenagers held off 800 police officers for 4 hours. I remember watching TV and seeing one female SWAT member causally fixing her hair before putting on her helmet. When kids are dying, you don’t need a helmet. I remember SWAT members hiding behind a firetruck 200 yards from the school. When kids are dying, don’t protect yourself, get into the school and don’t hide behind a fire truck. Most shamefully the SWAT team’s ridiculous strategy was to keep Harris and Klebold pinned in the school, which protecting the heavily armed SWAT members but left Harris and Klebold free to kill more unarmed students.

    The leader of SWAT unit quickly resigned in disgrace.

    Fortunately, for this church they didn’t need a SWAT team to resolve the issue.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  32. Steve #27,

    As NK noted, while your link is limited to 2006, it reflects there were no anti-Islamic incidents of murder or manslaughter. It does indicate there were numerous incidents of anti-Islamic crime.

    Do you really believe Powerline was equating murder of Christians with any criminal act against Muslims? I think the point was hate-related deaths.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  33. If he had no gun he would have found another way to kill the Christians he hated so much.


    But he may have seized on an impulse the Omaha shooter kindled.

    steve (247d20)

  34. Perfect Sense, well I’m glad that your recollection of a video refutes my point. I just wish I understood what form of logic you used since your argument is not responsive to my comment.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  35. DRJ #33,

    As a lawyer, I would also throw aggravated assault, simple assault and intimidation into the mix.

    nk (26f031)

  36. Latest CNN report says that..

    An ex-bunkmate of the killer while they were both at WYAM said the killer often made strange noises while in bed and alleged he was talking to ‘voices’.

    These could have been either (1) auditory hallucinations – typical symptoms of schizophrenia or (2) demonic possession.

    WYAM leaders also alluded to medical issues the killer had which were the reasons they dismissed him from WYAM.

    ruack (98785b)

  37. Sorry, it should be YWAM.. not WYAM 😉

    ruack (98785b)

  38. or (2) demonic possession.

    Yeah I don’t think Mephistopheles is on the suspect list.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  39. I think the point was hate-related deaths.

    Based on what, their inclination to understate?

    “All hate crimes” aren’t lethal. This was an orphan reference advancing a stock narrative.

    Powerline suffers the same incompetence as the old media John Hinderaker attacks. And the guy earns awards for his vulgarity.

    steve (247d20)

  40. If the guy was schizophrenic, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, it’s not a hate-crime issue. It’s a psychiatric healthcare issue.

    A person with paranoia is totally irrational and can hate or fear just about anything.

    ruack (98785b)

  41. steve…
    If you don’t like what the guys at PowerLine do, all you have to do is start your own blog and be better than they are.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  42. This woman is a hero in a way that is unusual in this generation. She stood down an evil creature who massively outgunned her and saved the lives of who knows how many people (other sites mention his efforts to use smoke bombs to ‘herd people’ together into a shooting gallery-type set up). If the anti-gun fanatics try to twist this armed citizen’s heroics somehow to aid their socialist cause I pray there will be an uproar. This horrifying episode is powerful evidence of why we need law abiding citizens to protect their God-given AND constitutional rights to “keep” AND “bear” arms. Imagine if this lady had been in Omaha or at Virginia Tech… What a different story those tragedies would have been. These types of evil killers only go after helpfless victims… They are too cowardly to face someone with the ability to resist them.

    Chip (c3b158)

  43. How do you define “courage?” One possible example is going to the sound of the gunfire instead of away. Here there be Heros.

    Bill M (8e7d8e)

  44. Steve,

    I appreciate your desire to be precise on the anti-Muslim point made at Powerline. I’m also interested in whether that was an accurate statement. One option is to pursue your concerns in the comments at the Powerline blog and, if you do that, please share with us the salient points from that discussion.

    DRJ (a6fcd2)

  45. Chip #43

    There were people at Omaha and Va Tech just like this woman. Unfortunately both of those places were “gun-free zones” so none of them were armed.

    chas (d7c0b2)

  46. DRJ,

    Thanks. Several Powerline commenters already sought a correction, actually.

    Notable AP sidebar on this gutsy woman:

    Dressed in blue jeans and boots, the petite Assam was greeted with applause at the news conference.

    When asked about her marital status, Assam said she was single – and then cracked a smile.

    “I am not married yet. I will someday. God’s going to find me the perfect man,” she said.

    Not a long wait, I imagine.

    steve (247d20)

  47. Powerline quotes a report that the gunman “hated Christians” and notes that “the toll in Sunday’s shootings exceeded the combined total in all ‘hate crimes’ against Muslims in the six years since September 11.”

    What a horribly stupid false equivalency. So I guess it’s currently:
    Christian Haters: 1
    Muslim Haters:0

    Wouldn’t a better correlate be disgruntled former workers, or are postal workers off-limits these days?

    Bob Loblaw (6d485c)

  48. It seems that they are already digging…from the latest AP story:

    “It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God,” said Assam, whose hands trembled a little as she recounted the shooting during a news conference Monday.

    Assam is a former police officer who worked in Minneapolis during the 1990s, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said. Garcia said Monday night that he didn’t know the exact dates of her employment with the force and couldn’t comment on why she left.

    cdeegan (4fd387)

    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.

    hazy (c36902)

  50. Steve,

    It is unbelievably absurd for you to claim your data proves what you claim it does. It’s actually quite vulgar of you to even bother comparing “intimidation” with murder, and there were zero people, you included, who think that is what Powerline was writing about. You’re impotently attempting to knock down people who contribute far more than you to these discussions.

    However, assuming that assault and intimidation do count, and the hate crimes of 9 murdered is in fact less than the hate crime of 20 intimidated, why don’t you count every single member of that church as intimidated, assaulted, etc? That’s hundreds!

    You do not see people walking into Mosques with machine guns, but if you did, imagine the scores of people who would be affected in each of the categories on the chart you linked? Surely this event, with its nine murders and hundreds scared and dozens or hundreds assaulted, was far more severe than what your chart indicates is reported against the muslim community.

    Why count only the murders in one case but all this other stuff in another? Powerline didn’t. We don’t. Why do you? What about Powerline intimidates you so much that you make such an infantile and pointless critique?

    Fact is, Christian hate is just as bad as any other hate, and there is an element of bigots who hate Christians. This kind of rare event is so bad that it simply tips the scales, and nothing you do can diminish just how awful this was.

    What a foolish nut you are.

    Dustin (9e390b)

  51. Dustin, you’re attacking Steve personally. That seriously detracts from the credibility of what you’re trying to say.

    You used many unnecessarily strong adjectives on him, like ‘absurd’, ‘vulgar’, ‘impotently’, ‘infantile’, ‘pointless’, ‘foolish nut’.

    If you have sufficient reason on your side, you don’t need these adjectives to make your point.

    ruack (98785b)

  52. #35 I just wish I understood what form of logic you used since your argument is not responsive to my comment.

    Do you want facts or logic? Your comment was that SWAT members were begging to go into the school. I never read or saw anything of the sort at the time. I did witness unbelievable cowardice and incompetence. The police/SWAT misconduct(yes SWAT is the police – logical enough for you?) was one of the most shameful acts of malfeasance I ever have ever witnessed. Millions upon millions of dollars were spent on training hundreds of policemen yet hundreds of police/SWAT members were pinned down for hours by two dead teenagers. Instead of protecting kids, these policemen held back and protected themselves while they let unarmed teenagers fend for themselves.

    Fortunately, the woman here took personal initiative, did not call for backup, did not fix her hair and did not hide hundreds of yards away from the killing zone. Instead she confronted a larger and better armed opponent, took aim and killed the mass murder. Logical enough?

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  53. Perfect Sense, there have been detailed chronologies of the events at Columbine released. If you really want to comment authoritatively upon the event, you may wish to read them.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  54. I’m a media jackal who actually covered Columbine. I was watching on a neighborhood roof when an armored personnel carrier lurched toward the school with black-clad FBI SWAT team members in tow — four hours after the shooting stopped. This wasn’t because they were cowards. It was SWAT policy at the time to secure a perimeter before going in. This, of course, was absurd when kids were being killed, but it was the book. And SWAT follows the book. Columbine rewrote all that. Now when there’s an “active shooter,” cops across America are trained to risk their lives to stop a bloodbath.

    In this case there appears to be a real hero. (“Appears to be” is just a journalist covering his behind…) I doubt I would have stood up, yelled at this guy to surrender and then, as he was shooting at me, pressed forward, returning fire until he dropped. I would have probably scrambled for cover in dampened pants. I don’t recall another case like this in that past decade where officers closed in so quickly. Or a lone officer. Or a female who was a private citizen. It’s a remarkable tale.

    I hope the best for Jeanne Assam, because she is the face of this story, even more so than the victims. I hate to say it, but you might as well protest against the thunder. And it will be a challenge.

    Lou (59d288)

  55. Lou, the clearing of the school did take a long time, but the first SWAT teams were entering the school long before that.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  56. No one at Columbine covered themselves in glory.

    A sad episode for all involved.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  57. IIRC there was an officer at the school, (Columbine), exchanged fire with or just got shot at at near an entrance, he retreated! He ran out on unarmed kids while a couple of armed kids were allowed to roam the halls unasailed!

    Had the trained professional actually done his job, even at the cost of his life, it’s for sure possible that a whole lot more would have walked out of that high school that day.

    This lady in CO is in fact one very tough minded lady! Knew what to do, and just did it! The gentleman in the article continued to say that he had never seen anything like it. Even in combat in Vietnam!

    The media will do their best to trash her to hell! Sit and watch.

    TC (1cf350)

  58. ruack – no, Dustin responded reasonably to someone implying that MURDERS are the same as “intimidation.”

    Frankly, such a suggestion *is* absurd, and someone sticking to it are being vulgar in their attempt to insist that a Muslim being scared is the same as a Christian being *killed.*

    Foxfier (c8e3db)

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