DENVER — A man was killed and a veteran Denver police officer suffered multiple wounds after exchanging gunshots early Wednesday outside a hotel in northwest Denver, according to Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas, who praised the officer and said an investigation of this confrontation has begun.
The policeman was taken to the Denver Health Medical Center emergency room for treatment of the gunshot wounds, which were classified as not life-threatening.
The man, identified by police officials in a posting on Twitter as a “suspect,” also was taken to that emergency room, where he died.
The shooting happened around 4 a.m. outside a hotel in the 2600 block of North Zuni Street.
The police officer had been “very attentive,” parked outside the hotel, sitting inside his police vehicle watching the man enter — apparently to ask about staying in a room — and then leave a few moments later, Thomas said in a briefing for reporters at the scene.
The man approached the police vehicle and opened fire — first from the passenger side of the vehicle before moving around the vehicle to the driver’s side and firing more shots, Thomas said.
The police officer was hit, yet managed to exit his vehicle, take cover, and return fire. He fired several shots until the shooter fell.
At least three bullets struck the policeman. “All of the shots were stopped by the bulletproof vest he was wearing,” Thomas said. “He is just fine, recovering in the hospital with his family by his side. He is in some significant discomfort.”
Fellow police officers responded when the officer alerted them by radio of the shooting and saw the policeman and suspect down. So far, Thomas said, there’s “no reason” for the shooting.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of guns here in our society in Denver,” he said. “There are neighborhoods where gunfire is a common occurrence. … We are proud of that officer, who acted very quickly and probably protected this community from grave dangers posed by this individual.”
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Colorado State Patrol, and Denver homicide investigators have begun an official probe into what happened, starting with the recovery of hotel surveillance camera video.