GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4)– Two months after a known gang member fired more than 55 shots at an officer, the victim who initially reported the suspect to police is telling his story for the first time. Luis Ibuado, 20, spoke exclusively with CBS4’s Dillon Thomas about the night he was shot at, sparking a police chase through Weld County, ending with multiple gunshot victims and a SWAT standoff with suspect Russell Cooley.
Ibuado said he was driving away from a restaurant, with his mother in the vehicle, on Nov. 14, 2019. He said a white pickup truck was driving erratically around him for reasons unknown. He said the pickup truck swerved close to him, and that was when he heard a gunshot near 13th Street and 27th Avenue in Greeley.
“(Cooley) got really close to me,” Ibuado recalled. “Once I crossed the intersection, I heard the gunshot. I didn’t know if it actually hit me or not.”
After calling 911, Ibuado said he met with police. That is when they located a bullet hole in the back of his vehicle.
Ibuado said he, to this day, does not know why Cooley, 40, fired at him. Ibuado does not know Cooley, nor the female passenger who was in the pickup with Cooley. Ibuado added he did not have any prior issues with Cooley leading up to the incident.
“Had he aimed higher, that could have hit either me or my mother,” Ibuado said.
Ibuado said he returned home for the night, shaken. It wasn’t until later that police notified him they had made contact with the suspect. However, at the time, police did not tell Ibuado the gravity of the interaction with Cooley.
Greeley police officers tell CBS4 they chased Cooley, until it wasn’t safe anymore. Later, his pickup truck was spotted south of town near Evans. A Greeley police officer, who has not been identified, made contact with Cooley. Before he was able to stop his police vehicle, Cooley started shooting at the officer. Body camera video released by Greeley Police gave the public, and Ibuado, a better understanding of the situation.
The officer is heard taking and returning, fire from the interior of his squad car. Glass is heard shattering, amid more than 50 gunshots from the suspect. The officer is then seen falling out of his vehicle, and taking shelter behind the vehicle, while also returning fire.
The officer was hit, but is expected to fully recover.
Police investigations would later show the Cooley’s female passenger, Maria Lerma, was hit with an officer’s bullet. Lerma, and Cooley, ran from the scene to his home. There, after a SWAT standoff, Cooley was found deceased with a self-inflicted bullet wound. Lerma was arrested.
After seeing the scene video, and hearing the gunfire the officer took, Ibuado expressed gratitude for the responding agencies.
“Thanks. (The officer) was out there putting his life at risk for everybody,” Ibuado told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “Just hearing bullet after bullet, going to him, makes me think that could have been me. That could have been me. He could have been shooting that many times at me.”
Rourke’s report suggested Cooley’s methamphetamine levels were 1700 ng/mL, which they defined as “a level which has been reported in methamphetamine abusers who exhibited violent and irrational behavior.”
Rourke ruled the officer’s name would not be publicly released, citing the danger it could bring to his family given Cooley’s gang affiliation. Greeley police told CBS4 Cooley was known for his gang ties, and said only the police chief would be making public comment on the matter.