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DPD: Suspect killed in police shooting brought AK-47 to Commons Park with more than 400 rounds of ammunition

Police are still investigating the man's motive for bringing the items to the Denver Park on Nov. 20.
DPD OIS Nov 20 commons park
Posted at 2:42 PM, Nov 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-30 17:06:26-05

DENVER — The suspect who was killed by police after bringing an AK-47 to Commons Park and opening fire at officers on Nov. 20 had more than 400 rounds of ammunition with him, Denver police announced on Wednesday.

Per their protocol, the Denver Police Department (DPD) held a briefing to provide more details beyond what was available in the shooting's immediate aftermath. During the press conference, DPD Major Crimes Division Commander Matt Clark explained that while the suspect had been reportedly chasing people in the park, had 14 magazines on him and more than 400 rounds of ammunition, police have not yet determined any motive or reason for him bringing the guns and ammunition to the park.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner identified the suspect on Nov. 22 as Joshua Mitchell, 42.

He said the first calls about the suspect came in around 3:40 p.m. on Nov. 20. The 911 callers said a man with a rifle was yelling at and chasing people around the 1600 block of Platte Street. They said he was not pointing the firearm at anybody. Shortly afterward, 911 callers reported the man had moved toward Commons Park, Clark said.

Denver police provide update after officers shot, killed suspect at Commons Park

Within four minutes of the first 911 call, DPD officers arrived at the park and spotted the suspect sitting on a bench on the west side of the park, Clark said. Because of the reports that the man was armed, the officers positioned their marked vehicles away from the man, with one officer on the west side of a hill in the park and others set up on a path south of the suspect.

Clark said the suspect looked at the officer near the hill, who was about 130 feet away, and, while still sitting on the bench, raised his rifle in the direction of the officer.

"The uniformed officers briefly gave commands directing the subject to drop the rifle before the subject began firing multiple rounds at the officer who was on the hill," Clark said. "This officer, along with the officer who was positioned on the path south of the subject, discharged multiple rounds from their department-approved rifles."

The suspect was struck by multiple rounds and dropped his rifle, Clark said. Officers approached him to see if they could render aid. They saw an AK-47 rifle in front of him, which they later determined was the firearm he discharged at officers, Clark said.

Once paramedics arrived, the man was declared deceased at the scene. Nobody else was injured.

In total, the two officers, who were both in uniform and near marked vehicles, fired a total of seven rounds at the suspect. Evidence showed that the suspect fired at least five rounds at the officer, Clark said. One of those rounds hit a DPD vehicle.

Commons Park Rifle_Denver Police Department

The responding officers found that the magazine for the AK-47 contained 33 rounds and one was in the chamber, Clark said. They also found eight additional loaded magazines in his tactical vest cover and five additional magazines in the bag next to him. Clark said the vest provided no ballistic protection. In total, the suspect had 14 magazines on him and more than 400 rounds of ammunition.

Following the shooting, residents at 1700 Bassett St. reported that multiple exterior windows were damaged by the gunfire. Police determined the damage was caused by the suspect's gunfire. While the residences were occupied, nobody was injured.

Clark said the subsequent investigation led to more details about what happened just before the shooting.

Investigators learned that earlier that day, the suspect went to a residence in north Denver where he had occasionally stayed before. However, the resident who was home believed the suspect was intoxicated and refused to let him inside, Clark said. The suspect then drove away and was involved in a hit-and-run crash with both an unoccupied vehicle and a parked vehicle at 2:40 p.m. near Federal Boulevard and W. 37th Avenue, he said. The car, which was disabled as a result of the crash, was found at 3:25 p.m. about a half mile away near W. 33rd Avenue and Clay Street and was blocking traffic, Clark said.

Surveillance video obtained by investigators showed the suspect walking away from the car around 2:50 p.m. and "likely" holding the rifle under a blanket, Clark said. He said the department believes the suspect walked to Commons Park, which is about a mile away.

There is no evidence that indicates the suspect opened fire at anybody before the police arrived.

After the shooting, police searched the suspect's vehicle and found a bag with about 50 rounds of additional rifle ammunition, Clark said.

However, investigators have not been able to nail down a possible motive, he said. They are working to get information from his cell phone and possible social media.

"It was certainly concerning that he had the rifle and ammunition," he said. "We have looked at that. We have searched his vehicle. We've searched the residence that he was at. There was nothing indicating that there was a larger plan associated with this. There is still work being done. We're just a few days post-incident."

Clark said ATF is helping DPD determine where the AK-47, which was purchased out of state, came from. It was not reported stolen, he said.

"I do think that there's evidence to suggest that had the officers not taken the actions that they took, that there could have been an even greater tragedy given some of the things we have discovered in our investigation," Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said.

On the evening of the shooting, Thomas said that DPD's officer-involved shooting protocol will be initiated, where officers from the DPD Homicide Unit, along with Colorado State Patrol and investigators from Colorado Bureau of Investigation will conduct a joint-investigation into the shooting.

Thomas asked any members of the public who saw the man at the park to reach out to the DPD.

Two videos of the scene are available on the Denver Police Department's YouTube page. An edited version of those videos, which does not show any graphic visuals, is below.

Body-worn camera shows Denver police shooting at Commons Park

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