DENVER, Colo. (Reuters) - At least four people were shot in the parking lot of a large Colorado evangelical church on Sunday in the second shooting in a day linked to a religious community in the state.
Police said a gunman opened fire outside the New Life Church in Colorado Springs after Sunday services and that three to five people had been taken to local hospitals. No fatalities were reported.
Police said they had detained a suspect but gave no details about his condition or a possible motive.
In an earlier incident, 70 miles away, two people were killed and two were wounded shortly after midnight when a gunman entered a training center for young missionaries in the Denver suburb of Arvada, police said.
Police in the two cities said they were coordinating information but did not know whether the attacks were related.
However Paul Filidis, a spokesman for the missionary group in Arvada, said the organization did rent space for an office from the New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
The New Life Church, which has about 14,000 members, was founded by pastor Ted Haggard, who resigned in disgrace in 2006 after admitting to sexually immoral conduct.
Police cordoned off the New Life Church and locked down several local buildings. Colorado Springs Police Lt. Fletcher Howard said police were not sure if a second gunman was at large. One eyewitness told CNN he saw a young man wearing combat boots and with an assault rifle and a handgun.
Rob Brendle, associate pastor at the New Life Church, told Reuters by telephone: “It’s been a dramatic day and we are participating with the police investigation right now but we are not at liberty to make a comment right now.”
In Arvada, two youth missionary staff members were shot and killed by a young man who came to the door of the Youth With a Mission dormitory asking for a place to stay, the group said in a statement.
When he was told he could not be accommodated there, he pulled out a handgun and opened fire. Two other staffers, who were cleaning up after a Christmas party, were wounded before the gunman ran away.
The Mission is an international and interdenominational organization that trains young people to work as missionaries.
“Please pray for the families who are on their way to Denver for the critically injured young man undergoing surgery today for the staff and students who have been evacuated to another location for the apprehension of the gunman who fled the scene,” Mission spokesman Filidis said in a statement.
Additional reporting by Steven Saint in Colorado Springs and Ed Stoddard in Dallas, writing by Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles, editing by Eric Walsh in Washington