DENVER (CBS4) – It started with a robbery and gunshots and led to a six-hour standoff involving an innocent man simply trying to do his job who wound up fearing for his life. In the end police arrested two men and got the hostage out unharmed.
Perhaps the oddest thing about the whole episode was the fact that one of the suspects was posting updates on Facebook throughout the ordeal.
The standoff and hostage situation happened at a Radio Shack at East Colfax Avenue and Glencoe in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood.
The social media aspect turned the crime scene into a gathering area where friends and family stood across the street in horror. They were getting updates in real time about what was going on inside the Radio Shack.
Denver police responded to a robbery in progress at the Radio Shack shortly after 10 a.m. Friday. Two suspects fired shots and police moved in. In the process store employee Christopher Nimerfroh was taken hostage.
“He just thought he was going to be killed,” Christopher Nimerfroh’s mother Melissa Nimerfroh said.
Police were inside the store negotiating with the barricaded suspects for six hours. Across the street friends of suspect Taveuan Williams, 19, watch in grief. Williams even posted a photo of himself with the other suspect, Michael Annan, 23, in the store at the time of the standoff.
Williams allegedly updated his actions on Facebook and told his friends to call him for a final goodbye.
“When I talked to him he was crying, he was upset and said, ‘I’m not coming out, just tell my family I love them. If I do come out I’m going to be shooting,’ ” a friend at the scene said.
The standoff shut down a dozen city blocks near Colfax, but no further shots were fired. Denver Police Chief Robert White said the suspects surrendered peacefully.
“There were some assurances made to them that if they came out unarmed, we would safely secure them,” White said.
Christopher Nimerfroh was also unharmed.
“It worked out on both sides and nobody got hurt. That’s all we care about, everything is alright, he’s okay,” Christopher Nimerfroh’s father Scott Nimerfroh said.
Both Williams and Annan have long criminal records that include larceny, burglary and robbery. They appeared before a judge Saturday morning to be advised of the potential charges against them. Williams did not claim innocence, but said he never tried to hurt anyone.
In a jailhouse interview with CBS4’s Stan Bush Williams acknowledged that shots were fired, but says they were never aimed at police and were not intended to harm anyone. He said he surrendered after a phone call with his mother.
Williams’ brother was killed during a similar incident last year. Aaron Williams shot at police and then took a family of four hostage inside their apartment. Aurora police officers shot and killed Williams after he refused to surrender. One officer was hit by bullet fragments and had minor injuries.