The following is an overview of what we believe occurred yesterday evening, with the following cautionary notes, however:
First, we are conducting literally dozens of interviews, and analyzing volumes of data, and it’s not only possible but likely that some of the following information will change. That’s the nature of a complex investigation, and we are only in the beginning stages of this particular investigation.
Second, because an officer-involved shooting occurred at the conclusion of these events, we are limited to commenting only on those events which led up to that. The officer-involved shooting is under investigation by the multi-jurisdictional 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team, whose findings will be forwarded to the District Attorney for his review, analysis, and determination of lawfulness.
Sometime prior to 5:45 p.m. yesterday, a 17 year-old young man became involved in a physical altercation with his father, at their home on the Redlands. The father suffered injuries during that altercation. The son left the home in a silver pickup truck, and also left with a long gun, and a backpack containing ammunition and some other items.
It would appear that the young man proceeded East on Broadway, because at about 5:49 p.m. he became involved in a head-on collision with a motorcyclist on Grand Avenue, between 8th and 9th Street. More specifically, it appears that he drove off the south edge of Grand Avenue in the 700 block, at a high rate of speed, and then veered into the opposing westbound lanes in the 800 block, striking the motorcyclist. The coroner will announce an official cause of death, but at this point we believe that the motorcyclist was killed as a result of the traffic collision. The young man’s vehicle also struck a parked vehicle in that same block.
Immediately after the accident, we believe that the young man exited his vehicle with the backpack and the long gun, and at one point was seen by a witness aiming the gun in a southwesterly direction. Evidence would indicate that he fired the gun at least one time, possibly striking an occupied vehicle that had stopped for the accident.
The suspect then began walking away from the scene of the accident, with gun still in hand. Officers responded to the accident scene, but we also began getting reports from a number of witnesses advising us of the suspect’s direction of travel. In general, it appears that he walked in a northeasterly direction, ultimately arriving in the area of 10th Street, between Gunnison and Hill, on the east side of Washington Park.
Parked at that location, facing south on the west side of 10th Street, was an SUV occupied by a woman and her two children, waiting for another one of her children who was at soccer practice in Washington Park. Numerous kids were in the park at that soccer practice. The woman observed a male subject with a gun approaching her vehicle and she obviously became alarmed. As she began to make an effort to start the car and leave, the subject contacted her at her vehicle and forcefully ordered all of them out of the car. They did what they were told, and began to flee from the vehicle.
At about that time, which was at about 5:57 p.m., officers from the Grand Junction Police Department, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, and the Colorado State Patrol began arriving in the area, having received updates from citizens calling our Communication Center. From just across the street, they engaged the subject who was standing at the carjacked vehicle, and an officer-involved shooting resulted. The subject was treated at the scene, transported to St. Mary’s hospital by the Grand Junction Fire Department, and died a short time later.
No one else, including first responders, was injured in this incident. We are not yet able to name the officer who was involved, pending additional interviews; however he is a 17-year veteran of the Grand Junction Police Department, and he also had prior police experience at another agency as well.
As we noted last night, we are not searching for any more suspects, and there is no additional public safety threat. Thankfully, this incident ended before any further tragedy could ensue.
As noted earlier, the entire incident is being investigated by the multi-jurisdictional Critical Incident Response Team, made up of investigators from agencies throughout the valley, and in consultation with the District Attorney’s Office. The fatal traffic incident in the 800 block of Grand Avenue was investigated by the Colorado State Patrol, in coordination with the CIRT team. We also received crime scene assistance from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
This is a highly complex investigation, and a short time ago, the CIRT team put out a news release asking for the community’s assistance in locating any additional witnesses or video related to the crime scenes at 8th and Grand, or at 10th and Hill. If you have any information that you think would be helpful, or if you happen to have video from your home, business, or telephone, please contact the Team at a phone number that has been specifically set up for that purpose. That phone number is: 970-244-3526. As in any case, you may also call CrimeStoppers at 241-STOP, or 241-7867.
We wish to express our condolences to the families of the two individuals who lost their lives yesterday. What are incidents and new stories to us, are deeply personal tragedies to these families, and we want to acknowledge the grief that they must be suffering.