Homicide

Victim of Colorado Springs gunman was veteran who survived three tours in Iraq

Series of shootings leaves 4 dead including suspect

 

An Army veteran survived three deployments in Iraq, only to be shot dead while bicycling in Colorado Springs, his former wife said Tuesday.

Tina Myers on Tuesday recalled her former husband, Andrew Alan Myers, 35, as a decorated military veteran and a caring father to their two young sons. He was the first of three victims: A gunman shot him in broad daylight Saturday and then calmly walked less than a mile to a sober living home where he killed two women on the porch.

The shooter, Noah Harpham, 33, died in a gunbattle with police.

Tina Myers said police told her that the shooting was apparently random and that neither Andrew Myers nor the other two victims knew their killer.

Neighbors watched in horror as the shooter gunned down Myers while he cycled down the quiet street. They said he pleaded with Harpham not to shoot.

"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," said Myers' grandfather, Samuel Myers.

Myers grew up in Thompson, Ohio. He enlisted in the Army in 2003 and served for 10 years. He rose to the rank of sergeant and was awarded two Army Commendation medals and three Good Conduct medals. In addition to three deployments to Iraq, he was stationed in Germany.

At the time of his administrative discharge in June 2013, he was stationed at Fort Carson outside Colorado Springs, assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team in the 4th Infantry Division.

Tina Myers said she and her husband separated when they returned to the U.S. from Germany and have been divorced for about a year. Their sons, ages 13 and 11, are struggling with his death, she said.

Authorities identified the other victims as Jennifer Michelle Vasquez, 42, and Christina Rose Baccus-Gallela, 34. Baccus-Galella was studying cosmetology and working as a telemarketer as she recovered from an addiction to painkillers, her sister Megan Williams said. Vasquez had two daughters and was "always fun to be around," said Marcie Maes, who was married to Vasquez's cousin.

A motive for the attack remained unknown Tuesday. Harpham gave no indication he was planning violence in a strange video he posted online two days earlier. He instead expressed displeasure with his father, saying he had fallen under the sway of a preacher whose controversial church emphasizes signs of God's miracles and supernatural healing.

Harpham struggled with alcoholism, which his mother, Heather Kopp, chronicled extensively in her book "Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up With a Christian Drunk." But police have not said whether there was any link between his substance abuse problems and the fact that two of his victims were themselves recovering from addiction.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.