Four people were killed and six were wounded in two separate shootings at religious establishments in the state of Colorado on Sunday, local authorities said.
The first shooting occurred in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, in the early hours of Sunday morning when a young gunman opened fire at a Christian missionary center. Two staff members in their mid-20s were killed and two others wounded.
The gunman fled before authorities reached the scene.
About 12 hours later another two people were killed, including the suspected attacker, in a shooting near a church in Colorado Springs.
City Police Chief Richard Meyers said four people were wounded in the second rampage, some with "life-threatening injuries."
The assailant was killed by a church security guard, Meyers said.
When police arrived on the scene after receiving an emergency call, "they found that the active shooter had been shot by a security staff member of the church," Meyers said. "A courageous security staff member who probably saved many lives today."
Earlier reports had put the number killed in Colorado Springs at five.
It was unclear if the shootings were related, but Arvada Police Chief Don Wick said such a link was possible.
"Yes, there's a reason to believe that," Wick told reporters. He did not elaborate.
The two shootings took place 120km apart -- a one-and-a-half hour drive.
The shooting in Colorado Springs occurred near the New Life Church, an evangelical congregation of about 10,000 members.
"It's a sad day and a tragic day in Colorado Springs," Mayor Lionel Rivera said. "This is not the kind of thing you expect in our community."
The church pastor, Brady Boyd, saw the shooting from his office.
"What I experienced from my window was surreal," he said.
Congregants "came to church to worship, what happened today was a tragedy," Boyd said. "It's unfortunate that we live in a society where this happens, but it does."
The New Life Church made headlines last year when its founder, Ted Haggard, resigned as a pastor after admitting to what he called "sexual immorality."
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