Affidavit: Off-duty Colorado corrections officer shot, killed neighbor over fireworks dispute

Former Colorado prison guard pleads not guilty in shooting
Posted at 3:47 PM, Jul 08, 2019

AURORA, Colo. — An off-duty Colorado Department of Corrections officer allegedly shot and killed his neighbor after a dispute over fireworks progressed to a physical altercation, according to court documents obtained by Denver7 Monday.

Scott Mathews Jr., 26, was arrested on suspicion second-degree murder for the Fourth of July shooting death of Jaharie Wheeler, 36, at the Greensview Apartments located at 16498 East Alameda Place in Aurora.

Mathews lives with his girlfriend who is also DOC employee at the same nearby facility, the documents read. She told investigators that the two were traveling together and arrived home from work around 10:45 p.m.

Once at the apartment complex, the suspect's girlfriend, armed with a holstered gun, told police that she became upset and began yelling at the victim's two children — a boy, 14, and a girl, 9 — after they had set off fireworks that frightened her two dogs.

The interaction in the complex's courtyard attracted the attention of Wheeler's girlfriend emerging from the victim's apartment and Mathews, who came down from the couple's unit with a visible holstered gun, according to the documents.

Police wrote in the report that after Mathews and Wheeler's girlfriend made it to the courtyard, the two began arguing. The suspect's girlfriend said she drew her handgun at some point during the courtyard dispute because she was "in fear of what she perceived to be an escalating situation and she felt she may have to defend herself or Mathews," the affidavit says.

She never fired her gun and returned the weapon back to her holster. Authorities have not filed charges against the suspect's girlfriend.

During the argument, Mathews allegedly head-butted the victim's girlfriend which prompted Wheeler to exit his unit and confront Mathews, according to the documents. Wheeler allegedly punched Mathews in the face, at which point the suspect drew his handgun from his holster and shot one fatal round at Wheeler, the affidavit states.

After the shooting, witnesses said Mathews attempted to render aid to Wheeler, but neighbors told the suspect to "back off." Police arrived and arrested Mathews without incident, telling arriving officers "I shot him," the documents read.

Matthews started working for the Department of Corrections in October 2015 and was working as a corrections officer at the Denver Women's Correctional Facility, the agency said. He has been suspended without pay.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Aurora police at 303-739-6127. Tipsters can be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000 if they contact Denver Metro Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867).