Hero Praises God for Steady Hand

Jeanne Assam was fired as a cop, hit rock bottom, then joined the church.

ByABC News via logo
February 26, 2009, 7:52 PM

Dec. 11, 2007 — -- Jeanne Assam was in the middle of a religious fast and in the middle of the church lobby when she shot a 24-year-old gunman who had already killed four people at two religious sites and was bent on killing more Christians.

Investigators have announced this afternoon that Assam's bullets struck gunman Matthew Murray, identified late Monday as the man responsible for both Sunday shootings in Colorado, several times but that ultimately he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the El Paso County Coroner's Office announced today.

Regardless, officials have credited Assam for calmly and coolly stopping the massacre before more innocent bystanders were killed.

"It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," Assam said at a Monday evening news conference in which the 42-year-old Sioux Falls, S.D., native who now bears a hero tag, introduced herself to the world.

Assam served as a cop in Minneapolis, Minn., but was fired in the late 1990s over a "truthfulness" issue, Minneapolis Police Union president John Delmonico confirmed to ABC News. Assam lost her job, Delmonico explained, after she was caught in a lie about an incident in which she cursed out a city bus driver.

Assam told "Good Morning America" in an interview that she became a Christian three years ago, a life decision that she made "when there [was] only one way to go but up."

She described the scene at the Colorado Springs, Colo., megachurch, which was crowded with an estimated 7,000 worshippers when Murray approached the building in the early afternoon and starting firing at churchgoers in the parking lot.

"Everyone was running and scattering and screaming. They were crouching down as they ran. They were yelling, 'Get down!'" Assam said. "I just had my gun out and said, 'Where is he?'"

A churchgoer yelled that Murray was coming in the front doors from a hallway. Murray continued unloading rounds from an assault rifle, Assam said. "It was the loudest noise ever," she said. "I will never forget that noise."

But instead of taking cover, Assam said, she offered a prayer and stepped out to confront the gunman, identifying herself to the 24-year-old.