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News briefs from the Front Range

Armed with more than just the love of Jesus
Last December, New Life security guard Jeanne Assam halted Matthew Murray's homicidal Sunday morning rampage by shooting him repeatedly. A wounded Murray then ended his own life.

The New Life tragedy, and its dramatic conclusion, have caused many churches to question whether armed security is the only way to keep parishioners safe. Last week, New Life senior pastor Brady Boyd told media representatives that he's committed to having armed security guards, plus uniformed police officers, at New Life for Sunday services. And he thinks other churches would do well to follow his lead.

"Had we not had someone on our campus with a gun, we would have been doing funerals for three weeks," Boyd said before meeting with about 118 churches and religious organizations to share security tips.

The meeting came after Colorado Springs police released the full report on the New Life shooting. Among other notes of interest, the report revealed police had been at New Life until shortly before the shooting, but left by the time Murray started his spree. JAS

Parade proves a smooth ride
To the relief of peace advocates, police and parade attendees, six out of seven of the peace marchers arrested in the 2007 St. Patrick's Day Parade marched without incident in this year's parade last Saturday. (The seventh arrestee, Elizabeth Fineron, was in medical rehabilitation and was unable to attend.)

The day was chilly, but pleasant, with the crowd largely supportive of the green T-shirt clad peace marchers, who joined under the banner of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission.

"I thought we got a fair amount of support, and just a lot of positive energy," said J&P executive director Jeff Briggs. JAS

City pays $39,000 to settle police brutality lawsuit
By agreeing to pay him $39,000, Colorado Springs has settled a long-simmering lawsuit with a man beaten by an Colorado Springs police officer wielding a flashlight.

On July 2, 2005, Delvikio Faulkner was among several men questioned by Springs police officers during a traffic stop. When Faulkner provided a false name, then attempted to spin away from Officer K.D. Hardy, Hardy struck Faulkner several times with a flashlight. An internal investigation later concluded Hardy used excessive force, though there was no "final disposition" for that investigation. According to CSPD, Hardy later left the department for other reasons.

In a federal suit, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado had backed Faulkner, arguing Hardy used the equivalent of deadly force, since a flashlight blow to the head can be fatal. Faulkner was hospitalized after the incident and months later complained of recurring headaches. MdY

City manager talks tourism
This could have been uncomfortable: On March 13, City Manager Penny Culbreth-Graft spoke at a luncheon organized by Experience Colorado Springs. The subject was tourism. Specifically, she was asked to compare the Springs' tourism muscle to that of the California cities in which she's worked, like Huntington Beach and San Diego.

Culbreth-Graft said we have plenty to offer, even if we are lacking in sand and surf. She gave Colorado Springs an A+ for tourist attractions and our ability to capitalize on them. In the future, she seemed to suggest, the city should look for new ways to "exploit" its natural, historical and cultural draws.

For instance, she said, when she branded Huntington Beach "Surf City USA" it started a very public beef with Santa Cruz for rights to the tag. In the end, both cities benefited from the publicity. JAS

Intermittent slowness bedevils assessor's site
Information on the El Paso County Assessor's Web site is about as local as it gets: price, location and even number of bathrooms for any local home. But the crowd looking at that information is remarkably, well, international.

In 2007, according to information from the assessor's office, people from 97 countries besides the United States used the Web site. It got 56 visits from the United Arab Emirates, two from Cyprus and one each from Bhutan, Nepal and North Korea.

The site is about a dozen years old, and it has gotten busy. By 2006 it averaged 70,000 visitors a day. That has now climbed above 80,000, and in the last three weeks the server handling all that traffic has been overwhelmed.

"This page is experiencing problems with intermittent slowness," reads a message on land.elpasoco.com.

A fix should be in place by mid-April, returning the county's busiest site to normal. Assessor Mark Lowderman notes with some amusement that the site is used by businesses and also by the merely curious. The single property that visitors look up the most, he says, happens to be his own. AL

Compiled by Michael de Yoanna, Anthony Lane and J. Adrian Stanley.

  • Church security, peaceful parade, police settlement, tourism, busy site.

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