Two Victims in Colorado Church Shootings had Whitefish Ties

By Beacon Staff

Three of four victims in the weekend church shootings in Colorado had ties to Montana.

Philip Crouse helped build a home for a foster family on the Crow Indian Reservation this summer, while sisters Stephanie and Rachael Works lived in Montana when they were younger.

The gunman, 24-year-old Matthew Murray, shot Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Crouse, 24, Sunday at the Youth With a Mission training center in Arvada, Colo., a suburb of Denver. Twelve hours later, Murray shot and killed Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. Murray died during the church shooting, but it is unclear whether he was shot by a security guard or shot himself, officials said.

Crouse, of Alaska, was a former skinhead who underwent a dramatic spiritual conversion at 18, said Ronny Morris, who works with a Denver chapter of the mission.

This summer, Crouse helped a Youth With a Mission group build a 12-bedroom house in the reservation town of Lodge Grass, Mont., for Dana and Keith Bartlett and their eight foster children.

“He was a musician,” said Christian Chavez, 14, the Bartletts’ son. “He’d always teach me things on the drums. Whenever we were on a break from working on the house, he’d teach me something new.”

Crouse also found a stray puppy in Lodge Grass, said Dana Bartlett.

“He asked everyone he met if they had room for a new dog,” she said. “He had a big heart and he did everything wholeheartedly.”

Bartlett said he ended up taking the dog with him back to Colorado to find it a home through an animal shelter.

Stephanie and Rachael Works lived in Montana in the 1990s, said the Rev. Daniel Davis of the First Presbyterian Church in Whitefish. The sisters and their family were members of that church from August through December 1995, he said.

Colorado Springs police Sgt. Jeff Jensen said the girls’ mother, Marie, and another sister — Rachael’s twin — were present when the shooting happened. They were physically unharmed, The Denver Post reported. Their father, David Works, 51, was shot twice and was hospitalized in fair condition.

Stephanie Works went on a mission to China over the summer, church officials said.