DENVER (CBS4) – Denver police shot and killed a suspect who stole a patrol car and pointed the assault rifle from inside the vehicle at officer who were chasing him Monday afternoon, investigators said Tuesday.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Lt. Matt Clark said the suspect, who was armed with a knife, attempted to steal a car from a customer who was vacuuming his vehicle at the Car Wash USA Express at the corner of 6th Avenue and Santa Fe at 1:53 p.m. Monday. The owner of the vehicle had the keys and the suspect was not able to get away with the car. The victim called 911 and described the suspect in detail. At the same time, an employee at the car wash started following the suspect, who was on foot, westbound on Kalamath.
Uniformed officers arrived within minutes and found a man matching the description from the victim of the attempted carjacking. Clark said the suspect ignored verbal commands from the officer. Another officer arrived and one officer deployed a TASER, but Clark said it was not effective.
One officer pulled up and got out of his patrol car to confront the suspect. At that point, the suspect was able to get into the patrol car, which had been left running.
“Once that car pulled into place, the subject was already going west and the officer was trying to maintain their safety and trying to maintain distance and it appears to have opened an opportunity for him to get to the vehicle,” Clark said.
“Ideally, we’d want the patrol car secured. This happened very quickly,” Clark explained.
“We do have switches that we can turn on,” Clark stated. “It allows the officer to remove the key from the ignition, the vehicle can stay running… again, this happened very quickly, it appears the officer put the car into park, jumped out and engaged the subject without having time to engage that switch and remove the key.”
At 1:58 p.m., the suspect drove the patrol car south on Kalamath and then west on 6th Avenue, where he ran into heavy traffic near Federal Boulevard. Police caught up to him near 7th Avenue and began pursuing the stolen patrol car, with lights and sirens on.
Officers reported seeing the suspect holding the assault rifle from the patrol car and pointing it at them during the chase.
The suspect turned east onto 8th Avenue and police attempted pit maneuvers multiple times before successfully ramming the patrol car between Zuni Street and the Interstate 25 overpass.
Clark said officers confronted the suspect at gunpoint, but he continued to ignored their commands and was beginning to the point assault rifle from the patrol vehicle at officers.
Three officers fired shots at the suspect at 2:03 p.m., Clark said.
Police pulled him out of the patrol car, took the gun from him and tried to render aid but were not successful. Clark said an autopsy was completed Tuesday but investigators needed to notify his family before his identity would be released.
Clark said the rifle was not loaded but the ammunition was easily accessible.
“If [the suspect] has any knowledge of the weapon it could easily be charged and made ready,” Clark stated.
Anyone who witnessed the attempted carjacking, the chase or the shooting are asked to call Denver police or Crime Stoppers.