DENVER (CBS4)- The Denver Zoo said a man involved in a deadly confrontation with police was making bizarre statements, including calling himself a lion.
The coroner is still determining exactly why Alonzo Ashley, 29, died on Monday morning.
After police in Denver responded to the zoo and restrained Ashley, he stopped breathing. What happened before police arrived is what zoo officials hope to clarify. They claim the man had his head in a water fountain.
“Our security officer approached him and asked if he was okay. He asked this several times and got no response. Mr. Ashley then began making irrational statements to the security officer,” said Denver Zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnhart. “Mr. Ashley claimed several times that he was a lion.”
The zoo spokeswoman said the officer asked a woman nearby if she knew the man.
“The woman appeared frightened and when she responded that she was Mr. Ashley’s girlfriend, Mr. Ashley began yelling at her and knocking over trashcans,” said Barnhart.
The unarmed security officer backed off and on the advice of his manager called police for help, but before Denver police arrived, the man attacked the zoo security guard.
“Mr. Ashley chased our security officer, tackled him to the ground and began punching him. During the incident, our security officer was beaten and suffered several scratches and bruises. Again, my goal in this is to describe why the Denver Zoo needed to call for Denver police assistance in this situation,” said Barnhart.
A woman who said she was Ashley’s girlfriend claims he was suffering from heat stroke. She told a local radio station that her boyfriend was putting his head in a fountain to cool off when security showed up.