Man Who Shot State Trooper Was Awaiting Attempted Murder Trial
DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado State Patrol trooper who was shot in Glenwood Canyon on Thursday is recovering from a second surgery but said to be in good spirits.
Eugene Hofacker, 31, got shot and wounded on Interstate 70 near the Dotsero exit. The shooter has been identified as 40-year-old Thomas Albert Ornelas. He was shot and killed by another trooper during the gunfire.
Ornelas was awaiting trial for attempted murder and was out on bond on another case when the shooting happened.
Last spring, Ornelas was arrested for a drive-by shooting in Fruita. Police say he was trying to kill his ex-girlfriend after sending her more than 1,500 threatening text messages and phone calls.
On Thursday investigators say Ornelas was sitting in his car on the side of I-70. Hofacker pulled over to offer assistance. When he got to the driver’s side window, investigators say Ornelas shot him. A second trooper who approached the car on the passenger’s side shot and killed Ornelas.
Ornelas has been in and out of the criminal justice system his entire life. As a teenager he was convicted of second-degree murder. After being released from prison on that case he had numerous parole violations, domestic assault and protective order violations.
In the 2013 attempted murder case, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger says by Colorado law prosecutors can’t argue a suspect should be held without bail unless it is a first-degree murder case. Hautzinger says he hopes that changes and that the state Legislature will take up the topic next year in wake of this case.