Former SWAT leader talks about eviction dangers

Posted at 10:08 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 00:54:11-05

The Park County Sheriff's Department knew the eviction notice served at 36 Iris Drive would be contentious. Cpl. Nate Carrigan was killed and two other deputies were injured as they made contact with the man inside.

Former Jefferson County SWAT team leader, Grant Whitus, said that evictions can be one of the most dangerous situations that law enforcement officers face.

"There’s a lot of dangers in evictions because they’re notified in advance that the eviction is coming," said Whitus.

According to the sheriff's department, eight deputies were at the residence to serve the eviction. Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener was also at the home before deputies made contact with the man.

Martin Wirth came out on his deck, went back inside then he grabbed a rifle and opened fire on the deputies. Wirth was shot and killed at the home.

Whitus is especially concerned by comments made in a YouTube video featuring the suspect and rants on his Facebook page. He wrote on Facebook last month "I am a high value target" and "cops want me dead." 

Wirth was an Occupy Denver leader and former state senate candidate. He had been fighting eviction for years, according to Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition website.

"I understand he's had a history with law enforcement, they know some of his background, looking at some of his YouTube videos he's certainly a Constitutionalist believing that he didn't need to pay his taxes, he doesn't need to pay his mortgage and he could defend his property with weapons which he certainly did," said Whitus.

Cpl. Carrigan was a 13-year veteran of the Park County Sheriff's Office. He was also well-known in the community as a football and baseball coach at Platte Canyon High School.

"You've got to pray for those law enforcement officers," said Whitus.


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.