Decorated U.S. military veteran Andrew Alan Myers, who survived three deployments to Iraq, was fatally shot by a gunman during a rampage on a street in Colorado Springs.
Myers, a 35-year-old bicyclist and decorated Army veteran, was the father of two young sons, ages 13 and 11, who are currently struggling with his death, Tina Myers, his ex-wife, reportedly revealed.
The Iraq veteran was the first of three victims shot dead in broad daylight Saturday by Noah Harpham, 33, identified as a recovering alcoholic.
Citing witnesses, the Daily Mail reports that Harpham was carrying a rifle in one hand and revolver in the other when he murdered Myers.
After murdering him, the killer reportedly walked calmly less than a mile to a sober living house, where he executed two women.
Harpham died in a hospital after a gun battle with police.
The two female victims have been identified as Jennifer Michelle Vasquez, 42, and Christina Rose Baccus-Gallela, 34, who were talking on the porch of the sobriety home when they were killed, The Denver Channel reports.
Police reportedly told Myers’ ex-wife that the shooting was apparently random and that none of the victims knew their killer.
Neighbor Teresa Willingham said Myers begged for his life as the gunman continued to shoot him.
“His last words were ‘Please God, no,’” she reportedly said.
Willingham said she saw Myers lying face down in the street after he was shot, his mangled legs still intertwined in his bicycle.
She added, “He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“He spent three tours of duty in Iraq and came out of that all right, and then came home only to be shot by someone he didn’t even know,” declared Samuel Myers, the veteran’s grandfather.
The Iraq veteran grew up in Thompson, Ohio.
According to the Army, he enlisted in 2003 and served for ten years. Myers rose to the rank of sergeant and received several awards during his time in the Army, including two Army Commendation medals, three Army Achievement Medals, and three Army Good Conduct Medals, reports KOAA 5.
He was stationed in Germany in addition to his three deployments to Iraq. Myers was administratively discharged as a private in June 2013. He was assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team in the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson outside Colorado Springs at the time of his discharge.
Chris Bowman, Baccus-Galella’s uncle, reportedly said Vasquez was sitting outside the sober living house, prompting Baccus-Gallela to open the front door to see what was going on.
Megan Williams, Baccus-Galella’s sister, revealed that the victim “was studying cosmetology and working as a telemarketer as she recovered from an addiction to painkillers,” according to the Daily Mail.
Marcie Maes, wife of Vasquez’s cousin, reportedly said Vasquez had two daughters, adding that the victim was “always fun to be around.”
Despite her dramatic mood changes, Galella was a redhead with a “beautiful, lively on-fire spirit about her,” who deeply cared for others, said her aunt Joyce Ann Bowman.
As of Tuesday, the motive for the attack remained a mystery.
“Harpham gave no indication he was planning violence in a strange video he posted online two days earlier,” points out the Daily Mail. “He instead expressed displeasure with his father, saying he had fallen under the sway of Rev … Johnson, a preacher whose controversial church emphasizes signs of God’s miracles and supernatural healing.”
“The church is part of a stream of Pentecostalism that heavily emphasizes signs of God’s miracles and revelations in modern-day life, along with supernatural healing,” adds the report. “Johnson and his church have come under criticism from conservative Christians who say Johnson promotes teachings far beyond the boundaries of mainstream Christianity.”
In the video, the gunman can be seen walking around his apartment while pop music plays in the background. The video is titled “Is My Dad in a Cult, and Even Worse Is It Satanic?”
The killer cites Bible verses in a blog post in an effort to discredit Johnson’s teachings, notes The New York Daily News.
“Welcome to mind control, f*** you very much,” he wrote. “My theory is that Pastor Bill Johnson is a Satanist intentionally keeping fundamental knowledge from you with the express purpose of controlling your mind and keeping you unaware of the Truth of your own sovereignty.”
Harpham’s mother, Heather Kopp, chronicled her son’s struggle with alcoholism extensively in her book Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk.
Nevertheless, authorities have not said whether there was any link between the killer’s substance abuse issues and the fact that two of his victims were recovering drug addicts.
On an eHarmony page seemingly belonging to Harpham, he reportedly describes himself as a Christian insurance salesman and a recovered alcoholic.
Harpham’s family allegedly issued a statement that was released by Benjamin Broadbent, lead minister of the First Congregational Church of Colorado Springs, indicating that “they were shocked and saddened and requesting privacy,” reports the Daily Mail.
“Words cannot express our heartfelt sympathies that go out to the families and friends of the victims,” the statement said.