Pastor's Mother, Gunman Die In Shooting Outside Church

Aurora Police: Off-Duty Denver Officer Exchanges Gunfire With Gunman

A gunman shot and killed a pastor's mother outside an Aurora church Sunday and the gunman was fatally shot in a confrontation with an off-duty Denver officer, according to witnesses and law enforcement sources.

Three people told 7NEWS the gunman shot Josephine Straham Echols, 67, whose son Delono Straham is pastor at The Destiny Center church at 10700 E. Bethany Drive.

"Investigators believe church services were going on inside the church when the suspect drove into the parking lot," Aurora Police spokesman Officer Frank Fania said.

Investigators believe the gunman shot the woman outside the church just before 3 p.m., Fania said.

An off-duty Denver police officer, who was leaving the church service, exchanged gunfire with the gunman, Fania said. It's unclear if the gunman was shot by the off-duty officer, Fania said. The officer was not hurt.

Both the woman and the gunman were rushed to the hospital, where they died, Fania said.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Fania said police were not releasing the names of those killed.

It's was unknown what sparked the violence.

"Please keep Pastor Delono Straham, the Straham family and The Destiny Center in your prayers. Thank you!" someone posted on the church's Facebook page at 6:15 p.m.

A woman told 7NEWS she was leaving the service when she heard gunshots, and her daughter told her to get down.

At least a dozen shots were fired during shooting outside the church, which is located in the Fountainhead Professional Plaza, police said.

The glass front of the church was riddled with bullet holes.

Aurora and Denver police officers responded to the scene, which is near the Denver border.

The Straham family is originally from Flint. Mich.

People gathered at the church hours after the shooting to remember Josephine Echols and express support for the Straham family.

"She's like a mother to a lot of people in the church," said Sharon Taylor, a church member. "You can always talk to Mom."

"She's at peace, mom. She's at peace," the woman said.

David Whitmore, a pastor at another church and a friend of Delono Straham, said the community will gather around the grieving son.

"We'll be standing with him in prayer," Whitmore said. "Every pastor around here will be standing with Pastor (Straham) in prayer."

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