COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – The man who fatally shot three people during a rampage through the streets of Colorado Springs was 32-year-old Noah Jacob Harpham, who lived just feet from where his first victim was killed.
A law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation confirmed Harpham’s identity to The Associated Press on Monday. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and did so on the condition of anonymity.
Witnesses said Harpham had a rifle in one hand and a revolver in the other when he killed a bicyclist on Saturday. He then walked less than a mile and fatally shot two women who were chatting on the porch of a sober living home. Harpham was then killed in a gunbattle with police, witnesses said.
Colorado Springs police have released few details about the shootings that happened Saturday in broad daylight, refusing to identify those killed or the suspect, pending the completion of autopsies Monday. But a fuller picture of the three victims emerged from those who knew them and witnesses who described a terrifying scene.
The gunman first took aim at a young man riding a bicycle, shooting him several times and leaving him face-down on the sidewalk, witnesses said. The man then marched down the streets with a rifle in one hand and a revolver in the other.
About a half-mile away, he turned suddenly, shooting two residents on the porch of a home for women in addiction recovery. He then continued down the block as police closed in, shooting at officers and shattering the window of a squad car before they fired back, said Matthew Abshire, who followed the gunman after he heard gunshots, looked out his window and saw a man firing a rifle.
“It looked totally random,” said Abshire, who rushed to help the women, using his shirt as a tourniquet. “He walked calmly and collectedly. His demeanor was like he was having a stroll in the park.”
Bullet holes were still visible in the home’s siding Sunday, and a pair of red roses lay on the bench where the women could often be found together.
“Those ladies were often on the porch, almost always they said good morning,” said Benjamin Broadbent, lead minister of the First Congregational Church of Colorado Springs who lives nearby.
As dusk fell, he led a candlelight vigil for a group of more than 50 people, urging compassion, even for the family of the gunman.
Those who knew the women said they were working hard to improve their lives. Adrieanna Waldridge, the roommate of one of the victims, said her friend had been excelling at a new job and had looked forward to taking her two young children trick-or-treating.
“We were going to be each other’s sober buddies,” she said. “It feels like a part of me is missing.”
The shooting has shaken other women living in the home, Waldridge said.
Naomi Bettis, who lives across the street from where the bicyclist was killed, did not know him but laid a bouquet of flowers and note where he died.
“My thoughts are with you,” she said. “Praying for the family. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Bettis said she saw the gunman, in a green jacket and cap, shoot the cyclist, who was coming down the block.
“His last words were ‘Please God, no,'” said another neighbor, Teresa Willingham, who saw the man lying face down in the street, his mangled legs still intertwined in his bike. “He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
– By Sadie Gurman, AP Writer
Associated Press writer P. Solomon Banda contributed from Colorado Springs.
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