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Killer's parents hug, cry with parents of 2 slain teens

  • Story Highlights
  • Parents of church shooter meet with victims' family
  • They "met and hugged and cried," pastor says
  • Matthew Murray, 24, killed four people in two shootings, before killing himself
  • His parents also thanked guard who shot their son
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By Eric Marrapodi and Wayne Drash
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(CNN) -- Pastor Brady Boyd calls it the "highlight of my ministry" -- seeing the parents of the man who shot up his church be embraced by the parents of two teenage sisters who were killed in the attack.


A former roommate took this photo of Matthew Murray performing in a 2002 Christmas program.

"The four of them met and hugged and cried," said Boyd, the senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"It made me evaluate my own life and think, 'Is there anyone I'm not forgiving?'"

Boyd was referring to a meeting on January 3 between Ron and Loretta Murray, whose 24-year-old son Matthew carried out the December 9 attack at New Life Church, and David and Marie Works, whose daughters, Stephanie, 18, and Rachael, 16, were killed in the rampage. David Works also was wounded in the shootings. Learn more about the victims »

The pastor said he invited the Murrays to visit the New Life campus after praying over the holidays. The family immediately accepted his invitation and was given a guided "step-by-step" tour of where the rampage took place and shown where their son died.

"It was extremely emotional. They wanted to hear the details. I kept telling them I would stop with details, but they wanted to hear them," he told CNN in a phone interview this week.

At one point, the parents also met with security guard Jeanne Assam, who shot their son in the leg before he turned his gun on himself. The parents thanked Assam for her swift action and for helping save more lives, said Casey Nikoloric, a Murray family spokeswoman and long-time friend.

"They told Assam that they were so deeply sorry she had to do what she did," said Nikoloric. "There were tears, lots of embraces, prayers."

The visit, she said, was "very, very, very important" in the healing process for the Murrays as they deal with the loss of their son and the terror he inflicted.

Boyd agreed. "I thought this would be best for the Murrays," he said, adding that it touched everyone involved.

"I've never seen repentance and forgiveness as profound as I did that day."

The Murrays toured the church with their other son, Christopher, 20, a student at Oral Roberts University. The Murrays met the Works in Boyd's office. He said he also asked the Murrays to share "some of the good memories" of Matthew as a boy.

"It put it in context: This kid was raised in an upper middle-class home and had every chance to do well," Boyd said. "You wonder what went wrong for Matthew. They described Matthew as any parent would describe their son."

The pastor said he didn't tell many people about the meeting before it happened, fearing it "could have gotten volatile and hostile."

"It was risky, but I knew enough about the Murrays to know they were mature and good people," he said.

On Sunday, he began his sermon by telling his congregation about what had transpired just a few days earlier. He was met with loud applause.


Matthew Murray began his assault that day at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada, Colorado, killing two people -- Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24 -- and wounding two others before he went to the New Life Church, about 80 miles away. The Murrays visited the mission center December 12 and met with the families of the slain victims, according to Nikoloric.

"The depth of our sorrow and our grief is greater than we could possibly describe," the Murrays said in a written statement. "But with thanks to God, these remarkable families and their pastors and churches, healing and reconciliation have begun." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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