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Authorities identify man fatally shot by police in south Colorado Springs

December 6, 2017 Updated: December 7, 2017 at 6:39 am
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A misdemeanor theft suspect fatally shot by Colorado Springs police Saturday evening has been identified as Christopher Louis Willard, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.

Willard, 33, "actively" resisted, fighting with two officers and pulling out what was later determined to be a BB gun when they tried to arrest him about 6 p.m. Saturday near South Nevada Avenue and East Navajo Street, the Sheriff's Office said.

Willard was wanted in an Aug. 18 theft, court records show.

He and another man allegedly stole a package off a front porch near North Circle Drive and Palmer Park Boulevard, and a warrant was issued for his arrest Nov. 22 after he failed to appear in court, records show. The package contained automotive paint worth about $300, Gazette news partner KKTV reported.

Willard was shot Saturday during the fight with officers after he drew a Umarex Colt Defender CO2-powered BB pistol, the Sheriff's Office said. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died.

The officers, whose names have not been released, were treated for minor injuries, said police Lt. Howard Black. They were placed on leave as required by city policy.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating the shooting in accordance with Colorado law, which requires that officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death be reviewed by a neutral agency.

Body-worn camera footage "has been retrieved, preserved and is being reviewed," the Sheriff's Office said.

Willard's prior criminal history in Colorado is limited, court records show.

In April, he pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary of a building and was sentenced to probation and community service.

Willard had three children, his social media pages show.

On what appears to be his LinkedIn page, he wrote he grew up across the country, living in 38 states, and had "an amazing love of people and food and a passion for hospitality." His most recent job was as Sunny Vista Living Center's food service director.

Willard wrote on what appears to be his Facebook page that he married his wife at age 16. County records show that he married Kristin Dee Coupland in August 2001.

She wrote on Facebook that a service will be held for Willard at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Rocky Mountain Calvary, 4285 North Academy Blvd.

"In lieu of flowers we are asking for donations to help cover funeral expenses," she wrote, sharing a YouCaring fundraising page. "Anything left over will go directly to the kids."

The fundraising page can be found at youcaring.com/kristinwillard-1033952.

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Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie

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