Police report: Alliance Center gunman threatened suicide by cop weeks before killing wife

Suspect placed in mental health facility in May
Posted at 10:16 PM, Jul 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-17 21:08:00-04

Police records obtained by Denver7 Investigates say the man who police say committed a murder-suicide in a busy downtown Denver office building last week was taken to hospitals twice for suicide threats in the weeks before the deadly incident.

The records show deep concerns about Mickey Russell’s mental state in the weeks before police say he walked into the Alliance Center with a gun, prompting an active shooter scare. Police say he shot his estranged wife, Cara Russell, before turning the gun on himself.

Cara Russell, the former mayor of Buena Vista, filed for divorce in April. She moved to Denver to work as executive director of the Colorado Recycling Association where she worked at an office in the Alliance Center.

RELATED: TSA previously checked up on man suspected of shooting, killing wife at Alliance Center

A Buena Vista police report shows a friend of Mickey Russell’s called police June 12 concerned because he posted goodbye notes on Facebook and texted suicide threats to his estranged wife.

Police began searching for Mickey Russell, and a short time later, the officer wrote “communications called and said they were on the line with Mickey and he was saying that he was going to hang himself.” The report states when officers found Russell he had been drinking and threatened to punch an officer in the face to provoke police into shooting him.

The report also shows police called a mental health provider who said Mickey Russell was “placed in Cedar Springs Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs in May because of his suicidal tendencies.” The provider also told officers "the last time she dealt with Mickey at the hospital, he tried to grab medical instruments to harm himself."

The report shows police took Mickey Russell to a Leadville hospital for treatment. The report does not state when he was released from the hospital. The report also shows Buena Vista officers filed a report with the FAA after seeing photos on Facebook of Mickey Russell flying planes because “based on Mickey’s suicidal statements, tendencies, and threats against law enforcement … it would not be safe for him to be flying airplanes around.”

A Denver Police Department spokesperson told Denver7 the DPD has not been able to determine how or when Mickey Russell obtained the gun used in the murder-suicide.

911 calls detail troubled relationship

Denver7 Investigates obtained records that show a history of trouble between the Russells in the final years of their lives.

In 2011, Mickey Russell called 911 to say his wife was attacking him. He told dispatchers Cara Russell was drunk and trying to leave their home and he was trying to stop her from driving.

“I just want police to come here just to calm her down … I don't want her arrested,” Mickey Russell said in the recorded 911 call obtained by Denver7 Investigates.

When a dispatcher asked if Cara Russell hit him, Mickey responded: “It's not important, okay? I'm a man, she's a woman. Don't worry about that.”

The ensuing Buena Vista police report states police found Mickey Russell with a bruise on his shoulder he said his wife caused several days earlier. Cara Russell told police her husband pushed her and hit her. Police decided they did not have evidence to arrest either spouse. 

Two years later, Mickey Russell called police again, at first claiming his wife stabbed him. He later clarified she tried to stab him and hit him with a pitchfork.

Buena Vista police again responded and their report states officer found Cara Russell holding a pitchfork and Mickey Russell walking with a limp but without any other visible injuries. He told police his wife hit him with the handle of the pitchfork. She told police she was defending herself.

Officers arrested Cara Russell on a domestic violence charge stemming from the pitchfork incident. Records indicate she successfully completed 18 months of probation and a deferred judgment program.

A memorial fund established in Cara Russell’s honor has drawn close to $5,000 in donations. 


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.