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2 dead after standoff with suicidal man in Canon City

By: Chhun Sun
April 15, 2015 Updated: April 15, 2015 at 6:32 pm
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The Cañon City RV Campground off Main Street and Steinmeier remains evacuated Wednesday morning. (Chhun Sun, The Gazette)

CAñON CITY • A man who called Cañon City police late Tuesday and said he was suicidal and “was going to shoot his wife and his dog” apparently carried out his threat and holed up in his motor home for nearly four hours before shooting at police from his doorway, Police Chief Paul Schultz said Wednesday.

The man, who has not been identified, was shot by police and fell fatally wounded back into his motor home, police said.

It was the third officer-involved shooting in Canon City in five months, and Schultz said the cases were all “pretty clear cut” cases of officers defended themselves.

The latest incident started just before 11 p.m. Tuesday when the man made the call to police from the motor home in the Canon City RV Campground at the intersection of East Main Street and Steinmeier near Highway 50. Police said the man had a “management role” at the campground; he also reportedly had “declining health” issues, but details were not disclosed.

When police arrived less than a minute after the call, they found a woman’s body outside the motor home. She was shot in the head, police said.

During the next few hours, six crisis negotiators attempted to talk to the man, with one conversation lasting about 10 minutes, police said.

He told family and friends via text messages and phone calls that “he was going to end it all,” police said.

About 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, police threw some “powdered form of pepper spray” at a window, and then the door swung open and the man stood in the doorway with two .45-caliber handguns and fired at officers, police said.

Cañon City police, Fremont County sheriff’s deputies and SWAT were all on scene during the incident. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation was investigating the shooting Wednesday afternoon.

Police said the man fired 12 to 15 shots, with four rounds hitting the protective window of an armored vehicle with a deputy sheriff inside and one hitting the front of a police car.

“When I look at the comments that were made and his actions and how he came out shooting, he didn’t shoot in the air, he didn’t shoot at the ground,” Schultz said. “He shot to kill police officers.

“The officers had no choice other than to defend themselves at that point.”

That was also the case, he said, in the two officer-involved shootings within a week December.

Brandon Atencio of Colorado Springs was shot and killed Dec. 11 after police were investigating reports of a man with a knife making threats. Atencio ran from police but police say he soon turned around and started charging the officers making threats. One officer fired and Atencio was shot twice in the chest and killed.

On Dec. 6, 32-year-old Hudson Clark was shot five times but survived. Police say he used a knife to stab an officer. Police said Hudson was being pursued after he tried to steal a gun from a pawn shop.

“If you look at each one of those cases, it’s pretty clear cut what happened,” Schultz said. “The officers defended themselves. We had no choice.”

During the latest incident, about 25 people were evacuated from the campground to a local Quality Inn during the standoff, and were allowed to retrieve belongings later Wednesday morning. Schultz said expected to allow the evacuees return by Wednesday evening.

The dog — an American Eskimo — was treated by a veterinarian and is expected to survive.

On Wednesday, a woman who said she knew the man and woman who died showed up at the RV campground and said they were a “happy couple.” Crystal Archuleta, a local hairstylist, said she cut the man’s hair once every three weeks. She said the couple asked her to come over for dinner at the motor home but never had the time.

“I’m very upset at myself that I’m coming over now,” she said.

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