On Sunday, September 4th, officers with the Grand Junction Police Department were involved in a shooting at the Shamrock Mobile Home Park at 2845 North Avenue. The following provides some additional details about this incident, as well as some context as to how investigations like this are handled.
It’s important to note that this information is being released on behalf of the Grand Junction Police Department only. As with any officer involved shooting, the investigation of Sunday’s events will be handled by the multi-jurisdictional 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team, which is comprised of representatives of local and state law enforcement agencies. The findings of that investigation will be forwarded to the District Attorney for final review and determination of lawfulness. Our agency takes this process seriously, and will avoid releasing any information that could interfere with or influence a fair and impartial review of this case. The following information will be limited to the events leading up to the culmination of Sunday’s incident.
As with any complex investigation such as this one, the CIRT Team is conducting numerous interviews, and evaluating a large volume of data and evidence. As we gather additional facts related to the case and the subjects involved, new details will emerge and it’s possible that some information could change.
At about 3:48 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, September 4th, the reporting party in this case called 911 from her neighbor’s home, and stated that her husband, identified as 44 year old Simon Gomez, who she believed to be under the influence of an unknown substance, was in their home with the reporting party’s two children, a 9 year old girl and a 6 year old boy. The reporting party stated that her husband was acting strange and paranoid, and had not let any of them leave the home all day. She stated that her husband had three knives “on him.” The reporting party expressed fear for her children, and stated she didn’t know whether or not her husband would harm the children.
Initially, two GJPD officers were dispatched to the Shamrock Mobile Home Park at 3:50pm, with the first unit arriving on scene at 3:54pm. Once on scene, officers contacted the reporting party to gather more information. Multiple attempts were made to contact Mr. Gomez via phone, but each time the phone went to voice mail. Officers called for Code 1 air (meaning no unrelated traffic on the radio) at 4:32pm, when they attempted to make contact with the suspect at the front door of the residence. Officers were able to make verbal contact with the suspect through a window of the home, but he rebuffed their efforts to talk and they were not able to confirm that the children were safe. At 4:40pm–nearly an hour after the initial call–officers could hear what sounded like items being broken inside the trailer. Due to the statements from the reporting party regarding the behavior of the suspect and the inability to confirm the safety of the children, officers had grave concerns for the welfare of the kids. Therefore, the decision was made to enter the home. With the reporting party’s permission, who was also the renter of the property, officers forced entry into the home, with the use of a breaching tool, at 4:42pm.
Upon entering the home, officers found that the suspect had set up numerous barricades, by placing furniture and other items in the narrow hallway. Officers heard noises in the back of the trailer and after first checking a back bedroom, they realized that the noises were coming from the bathroom.
Officers entered the bathroom and observed silhouettes behind the sliding shower door. The suspect ordered the officers to get out and stated that he would kill the children. The officers opened the sliding shower door, and immediately observed Mr. Gomez kneeling or crouching in the bathtub and holding both children hostage, armed with two knives, with one knife pointed at the neck of each of the children. Both children were crying. The suspect was ordered at least twice to drop the knife. When the suspect refused to do so, one officer fired his duty weapon. According to radio traffic, officers called out “shots fired” at 4:44pm. Paramedics were requested twelve seconds after the shots fired traffic. Ultimately, the suspect died at the scene. Other than a small laceration that was later located on the boy’s hand, there were no other injuries to anyone else on scene. It’s unknown at this time how the boy obtained the cut.
After shots were fired, the children were immediately carried from the home and taken to a patrol car. After quickly taking photographs to preserve evidence, they were cleaned up and assessed for injuries. They were provided with water and stuffed animals until they could be transported the Police Department with their mom. They were both provided with clean clothing.
Later, two knives were found in or near the bathtub where the suspect and children were. We were also able to confirm, during subsequent interviews with the children, that Gomez had held knives to the children’s chests and necks while they were alone with him in the trailer, prior to officers making entry into the home.
Gomez has a criminal history in multiple states which includes numerous burglaries and DUIs, as well as several arrests for resisting arrest, eluding, and assault. Gomez’s history with our agency dates back to 2000, with arrests for DUI and assault. Gomez’s most recent contact with us was just a few days ago, when a reporting party called 911 and stated that Gomez was yelling at a female and children. Officers spoke to all parties involved, who stated that the argument was verbal only, and they agreed to separate until things settled down.
The officer involved in the shooting is Corporal Ryan Piotrowski. Corporal Piotrowski has been with our agency for 13 years. Ryan is a training officer, and also serves on our SWAT team. Corporal Piotrowski is currently on Administrative Leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, which takes place separately from the criminal investigation being conducted by the 21st Judicial District Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT).
We have received the preliminary results of the autopsy for Mr. Gomez. The cause of death, according to the Mesa County Coroner, is gunshot wounds to the head and chest. Toxicology results indicated the presence of alcohol and methamphetamine in his system. A copy of the release from the Mesa County Coroner’s officer is attached here.
In addition to the CIRT team, we received the assistance of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado State Patrol, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in this incident. In investigations as complex as this one, we are fortunate to have solid collaboration with our local law enforcement partners.
The scope of this investigation is large. Detectives have been, and will continue to conduct interviews with anyone that may be able to help complete the picture of the events that occurred on Sunday, as well as what that led up to the tragic outcome. Anyone who feels they may have information that could be helpful is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers at (970)241-STOP, or www.241STOP.com.
Finally, the trauma inflicted on those affected by this incident–specifically, those innocent children—cannot be overstated. It’s heartbreaking to consider what they experienced on Sunday. This is a deeply personal tragedy for this family, and we want to acknowledge the grief they must be suffering. Any loss of life is tragic, and as an agency, we extend our condolences to those that are grieving.