Christopher Pepper was headed to his bedroom with an ice cream cone for his girlfriend when he was killed in his kitchen early Saturday.
His girlfriend, Daniella Caho, 18, told police she heard a loud crash and gunshot, then heard the 20-year-old Pepper shout profanity before another gunshot sounded.
Elijah Tyre Colon, also known as Elijah Phillips, was arrested later Saturday off of Interstate 70 in Utah by the Utah Highway Patrol as a suspect in the killings of Pepper and his mother, 53-year-old Barbara Pepper, Colorado Springs police said.
Colon, 19, was driving a blue Toyota Corolla stolen from Barbara Pepper when he was apprehended.
He was arrested on suspicion of one count of first-degree murder, but police were unavailable to explain why he is facing only one count.
Colon had been staying with the Peppers at their 2539 Balboa St. home for about a week, friends told The Gazette. Barbara Pepper owned the home, El Paso County assessor's records show.
Christopher Pepper and Phillips had known each other since childhood and were "thick as thieves," said Isaac Kale, 19.
"They helped him get a job. This is how he repays them - by killing them," Kale said. "It just doesn't make any sense."
Colon was "Christopher's longtime best friend" who was staying with the Peppers after he was kicked out of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Caho told police. She drove from the Denver area on Friday to visit.
Caho gave police this account:
After hearing the commotion in the kitchen, she grabbed a stick by the bed and went into the hallway. She encountered Colon, who apologized and told her not to go into the kitchen. He stopped her in the hallway and pushed her back into the bedroom, where she went into the closet.
When she came out, she saw Colon in the bedroom, holding a black handgun with a wooden handle. He kept apologizing, saying "he didn't mean for this to happen," and told her he wouldn't hurt her.
He asked if she knew where Barbara Pepper kept her car keys and said they had to go to the hospital.
Caho then walked into the kitchen and saw both Peppers lying on the floor. Barbara had an apparent gunshot wound in the back of her head, and Christopher was unresponsive but had no visible wounds. Caho performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Christoper and then called 911. When she looked up, Colon had left.
If the deaths are ruled homicides, they will be the 13th and the 14th this year in Colorado Springs.
Sunday, a man who has not been identified was found shot to death at the Georgetown Square townhome complex in the 2000 block of North Academy Boulevard. If his death is ruled a homicide, the city's total will rise to 15.
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198