Then it stopped.
The Warrens headed to Matthew’s house. He did not come to the door. The lights were on, and they decided to leave, worried if they called the police Matthew would make good on his fatal promise.
The next morning they went back to his house. The lights were still on.
This time they called the police.
Rick and Kay Warren stood outside their son’s home sobbing in each others’ arms.
A nod from a police officer who inspected Matthew's house confirmed the worst.
“I just hit the ground," Kay Warren said.
Matthew had access to mental health care and all the love in the world but not even that could spare him, Rick Warren said.
“If love could have kept my child alive, he'd be alive today, because he was incredibly loved,” the pastor said.
The evangelical Christian said he doesn’t blame God for his son’s death.
“I never questioned my faith in God; I questioned God’s plan,” Rick Warren said. “God isn’t the blame for my son’s death. My son took his life. It was his choice.”
Kay Warren said the family’s faith and community support got them through the past five months. Condolence cards poured in from around the world; 30,000 by Saddleback Church’s count.
In their grief, Rick and Kay Warren said they turned to a familiar source, the Bible.
For Kay Warren, a verse from the New Testament brings comfort, she said. “It says our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory.”
She recites the verse when visiting her son’s grave.
“Matthew's body was broken. That gun broke his body and he was buried in brokenness. But he's going to be raised in glory.”
The Warrens said they struggle with anger that their son died using an illegally obtained firearm.
Before his death, Matthew told his parents he bought the gun online, but wouldn’t tell them from whom.
Investigators said the serial number was filed off when they recovered it from the scene. So far police have not been able to determine who sold Matthew Warren the gun.
“One of the hard things was forgiving the person who sold him the gun,” Rick Warren said. “Because I didn't want to forgive him.”
But the Warrens said their Christian faith, rooted in the belief that their own sins had been forgiven by Jesus, enabled them to forgive the person who sold the gun to their son.
“I don't want to be tied to that person emotionally for the rest of my life,” Kay Warren said.