The body of a man was discovered behind Vanguard Church early Sunday morning, causing a commotion for the congregation's members who were greeted by a parking lot full of police when they arrived for worship services.
Someone discovered the body in a small alley on the northeast end of the building's parking lot southwest of the intersection of Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard shortly after 5 a.m., spokesman Larry Herbert said.
Police detectives are leading the investigation and the El Paso County Coroner's Office will conduct an autopsy to determine the man's identity and cause of death, police said.
Police released few details, but neighbors reported that someone had heard gunshots in the area, and that the man, who was not wearing a shirt, was covered in blood. On Sunday afternoon, there were signs that the pavement where the man was found had been scrubbed with a power washer.
Worship services at Vanguard Church, 3905 N. Academy Blvd., went on as scheduled, but the day was marred by the morning's discovery, Pastor Kelly Williams said. As one of the church's worship leaders arrived to prepare for the day's services at 6 a.m., the parking lot was filled with patrol cars that had lights flashing.
"We had to use some security measures, such as keeping people away from that side of the building, because of the proximity of the crime scene," Williams said. "We don't know who the person was, but we all prayed for the victim and his family. We also made ourselves available to speak with anyone who had questions or concerns about the situation. People are obviously sad and shocked by something like this."
Residents of the Drexel Apartments, directly behind Vanguard Church, were awakened when police knocked on doors there. Several apartment windows overlook the alley where the body was found and it is standard procedure to conduct neighborhood follow-ups, Herbert said.
"One of my neighbors told me that they could see everything from their window, and there was a man laying face-down with his shirt torn off, covered in blood," resident Robert Miranda said. "I heard from someone else they may have heard gun shots, but I was woken up this morning when police were going around asking if anyone knew anything."
If the coroner rules this death a homicide, it would be the 27th of the year in Colorado Springs. This time last year, there had been 19 homicides in the city.
Anyone with information can call police at (719)444-7000 or Crime Stoppers at (719)634-STOP.