A Colorado Springs pastor who sought to comfort residents shaken by a neighborhood shooting suddenly found himself becoming a very different conduit for grief on Monday, when family members of the shooter asked him to speak on their behalf.
On Sunday evening, the Rev. Benjamin Broadbent spoke at a community vigil for three people who were killed in a Halloween shooting spree. On Monday, he sat down with the brother and father of 33-year-old Noah Harpham, the suspected gunman who also died that day, to talk about a message family members wanted to give to The Gazette.
In the statement, Harpham's brother and father said: "Our family is shocked and deeply saddened by the devastating events that took place in Colorado Springs on Saturday morning. Words cannot express our heartfelt sympathies that go out to the families and friends of the victims. We as for privacy as our family tries to deal with this tragedy."
Heather and David Kopp, Harpham's mother and stepfather, reached out to Broadbent because he had been their pastor when they were at First Congregational Church, 20 East St. Vrain Street, before they moved away about a year ago, Broadbent said on Monday. He had no idea that the couple had a son, and had never known of Harpham, he said.
Outside of his connection to the Kopps, Broadbent lives in the neighborhood where Harpham started a house fire on North Prospect Street and gunned down one person there and two others on East Platte Avenue around 9 a.m. on Saturday. Broadbent's church is north of downtown, a few blocks north and west of where the shootings occurred. Broadbent's family lives on the block where two women, Christy Galella and Jennifer Vasquez, were shot. Although he was not home at the time, Broadbent's wife and children heard the gunshots.
"I have been personally traumatized," he said on Monday.
So Broadbent attended an evening vigil for the shooting victims, hoping to provide support to his neighborhood, he said. While those at the vigil lit candles, Broadbent asked them all to recognize their pain.
"We're all hurting tonight - raise your candle if you're hurting," Broadbent said during the vigil.
Then on Monday morning, he agreed to meet with Harpham's brother and father to help them deliver their statement. Broadbent won't remain a spokesman for the family, he said, but he passed along their message.
"They asked me to deliver this statement on their behalf because they wanted to communicate their regret about what happened," he said.
Gazette reporter Chhun Sun contributed to this report.