Gunman Who Killed Three in Colorado Was Recovering Alcoholic

By Paul Gaita 11/04/15

Noah Harpham killed three people, including two fellow AA members, before being shot by police.

Noah Harpham
Noah Harpham in his bizarre YouTube video. Photo via

A 33-year-old man who fatally shot three people in Colorado Springs, Colo., was a self-described recovering alcoholic whose struggles with addiction had been the subject of a book written by his mother.

Noah Harpham, who was described by neighbors as a licensed insurance agent who lived alone, left his home on a suburban street near downtown Colorado Springs at approximately 8:45 a.m. armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and pistol, which he aimed at several neighbors before encountering bicyclist Andrew Alan Myers.

The 35-year-old reportedly begged for his life before Harpham shot him several times. The shooter walked a half-mile to a sober house and shot Jennifer Michelle Vasquez, 42, and Christina Rose Baccus-Gallela, 34. A report from the Colorado Springs Gazette stated that Harpham had gone to AA meetings at the house, but had stopped attending about two months prior to the shootings.

Harpham encountered police at a busy intersection near the downtown section of Colorado Springs and opened fire, shooting out the window of a squad car. Witnesses stated that Harpham was killed when police returned fire.

Harpham, who described himself as a recovering alcoholic in a profile for the dating site eHarmony, had been the subject of a book by his mother, Heather Kopp, titled Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk. The book detailed his struggles with both alcohol and drug addiction, from which she claimed in 2013 that he had been sober for five years.

He had no criminal record beyond a 2003 speeding ticket issued in Oregon, and maintained what neighbors described as a quiet and solitary life. In an interview, some claimed that they initially thought that the shootings were a Halloween prank.

But investigations by various media outlets discovered that two days before the shootings took place, Harpham had posted a rambling video on YouTube that discusses his father’s involvement with the California-based Bethel Church. He also posted a blog called, “Is My Dad in a Cult? Even Worse, Is It Satanic?” that same day.

A statement issued by the Bethel Church expressed sympathy for the victims and Harpham’s family, and claimed the connection to the shootings was “painful and confusing."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.