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Repairs to Colorado Supreme Court building expected to cost $35M following Jan. 2 break-in

Man breaks into Colorado State Supreme Court Building, fires gunshots and is arrested
Posted at 7:54 PM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 21:59:37-05

DENVER — An armed man allegedly caused $35 million in damages to the Colorado Supreme Court building after he reportedly broke in during the early morning hours of Jan. 2.

Chief Justice Brian D. Boatright and State Court Administrator Steven Vasconcellos provided an update on the current state of the building and next steps to legislators Friday.

“All the information we have, we are very confident that this was a really random act and had nothing to do with the recent court cases we’ve had,” Boatright said. “The gentleman just picked that building.”

The incident began around 1:11 a.m. on Jan. 2, when someone called police dispatch to report they had been involved in a crash at 13th Ave. and Lincoln St. The caller told dispatch that a man from the other vehicle — later identified as 44-year-old Brandon Olsen — got out of his car, grabbed a pistol from the back seat and ran from the area.

“Soon after, that same individual shot out a window on the east side of the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center,” located at 1300 Broadway, according to the Denver Police Department.

According to DPD's probable cause statement, Olsen allegedly made his way inside after smashing a window on the first floor. Olsen encountered an unarmed security guard and held him at gunpoint as he tried to break his way into a store/maintenance room, police said.

After forcefully obtaining the keys from the security guard, Olsen allegedly made his way to the seventh floor of the building, where he fired additional shots inside the building and, at some point, started a fire in a stairwell, according to arresting documents.

He voluntarily surrendered to police at approximately 3 a.m.

“No one was hurt in the incident and the Colorado State Patrol security guard who was confronted at gunpoint is healthy and well, has had some time away, and is getting full support from his team at the State Patrol,” Vasconcellos said. “We are extraordinarily grateful for our partners at the State Patrol.”

Denver police said the incident does not appear to be connected to threats against justices following the Colorado Supreme Court's decision to ban former President Donald Trump from appearing on the state’s primary ballot.

Man breaks into Colorado State Supreme Court Building, fires gunshots and is arrested

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The fire sprinklers ran for two hours, causing water to flow from the 7th floor down to the basement, according to Vasconcellos. One floor saw ankle-deep water, the state court administrator said during his update. Fire extinguishing equipment also required "significant water and materials mitigation," which left behind damage, Vasconcellos said.

In addition, the HVAC system carried the fire's smoke throughout the building. Vasconcellos said industrial hygienists are still assessing potential impacts.

Due to the extensive damage, the 5th, 6th and 7th floors will need to be "rebuilt from scratch," according to Vasconcellos.

“It is a disaster recovery site and not a workplace at the current moment,” Vasconcellos said. “Our initial damage estimate is based on what we know so far. This will change, this is not based on a construction estimate…but based on the experts from risk (management), their experts from the insurance companies, the construction consultants that support the insurance companies we are looking at approximately $35 million. I imagine, as with most construction projects, that will change.”

Vasconcellos said the "least damaged floors" can hopefully be occupiable by the beginning of March. Repairs to the three severely damaged floors could take up to a year.

The Judicial Department does not plan to ask for funding from the General Assembly, according to Vasconcellos.

Officials are still in the process of drying records that were impacted during the incident. Vasconcellos said the extent of that damage is unknown, and the drying process could take up to three weeks. It is unclear if any cases will be impacted. However, Vasconcellos said no court records or records related to the Office of the State Court Administrator were compromised.

The courthouse side of the Carr Center will reopen to the public via the 2 E. 14th Avenue entrance at 8 a.m. on Jan. 16. Visitors will need to sign an entrance registry. The 1300 Broadway entrance to the courthouse remains closed at this time.

The Colorado Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments during the week of Jan. 16 as docketed.

Olsen is due back in court on Jan. 30 at 8:30 a.m.


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