POSTED: Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:29pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 23, 2012 - 12:39pm
Colorado police are working to identify the gunman who opened fire outside of an Aurora church Sunday afternoon.
The gunman and the mother of the church's pastor were shot and killed in the hail of gunfire that ensued when an off-duty police officer returned fire.
The shooting took place at the Destiny Christian Center.
According to Yolanda Marant, the media contact for the church, the shooting happened right at the end of service Sunday, sometime after 2 p.m.
"Our drummer was waving for a couple of people in our service to come out," Marant said about the end of the service.
She says the drummer waived for the off-duty officer and the pastor's mother to come outside.
According to Marant, she didn't know why the church's drummer was asking people to come out.
The off-duty police officer and the pastor's mother were outside and then the congregation heard, "Get down!"
"I've never been in any kind of trouble. I've never heard a series of shots," Marant said. "Three shots back to back. All of a sudden, people were told to get down. We hit the floor, our kids were on the floor. We told everyone not to go outside."
The congregation hid in different rooms.
"Only God protected us," Marant said.
Aurora Police say the shooting suspect and the pastor's mother were shot and taken to a local hospital.
"They both people were rushed to the hospital. When they were transported, they were in serious condition," Officer Frank Faina, spokesperson for the Aurora Police Department said.
The pastor of the church, De Lono Straham, said his mother, Josephine Echols, lovingly called "Mother Jo" by church parishioners, passed away on Sunday evening.
Police say the suspect also died.
Officers say the suspect was shot by the off-duty Denver Police officer.
Marant says the officer is a member of the church and is the pastor's cousin.
According to Marant, she did not know who the shooter was or why he shot at the church members.
She described the shooter as a young man.
"It literally just happened," Marant said. "We've never seen the young man before in our lives."
Marant said the church is somewhat hidden away inside a business park and one would have to know about it, where it is and the time of worship to find it.