DENVER — The mother of the suspect accused of killing two brothers in a road rage shooting on I-25 in June told Denver7 Thursday his son was acting in self-defense.
Arresting documents show that just after 3 p.m. on June 13, Stephan Long — who is identified in a court docket list and in his driver license as "Stephen" but whose birth certificate identifies him as "Stephan," according to his mother — was traveling north on the highway when people in another vehicle came alongside him, and began yelling at him. Apparently, that vehicle pulled in front of Long and cut him off shortly before the passenger exited their vehicle and began "grabbing and hitting the suspect through his open driver's window."
Long grabbed a handgun and shot the man, the arrest papers state, before the driver of that vehicle exited their car and approached Long. The man then reportedly began to drive away, but driver apparently clung to the open window while the car was moving. Documents show that's when Long shot the driver as well.
The probable cause statement concludes by saying, in part, "the suspect also fled the scene and did not call 911 about this incident. The suspect was not injured and did not have any visible injuries."
Long was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting after he was arrested without incident.
Two people killed in apparent road rage shooting on northbound I-25 in Denver
The two people killed in the incident were 22-year-old Damon Lucas and 21-year-old Blake Lucas, who were brothers on their way to a job interview, according to police.
Family, friends, and supporters of the defendant in the case, 25-year-old Long, held a demonstration outside of the Denver District Attorney's office on Thursday afternoon. They want to see the two first-degree murder charges dropped and Long to be released from jail.
"If my son were white and two non-white men attacked him, he likely would not be in jail. He may never have even been arrested," said Stephanie Clifton, Long's mother. “I can't put it into words, but I hope you can try to imagine how it feels, as a mother, to have my son become another statistic.”
Clifton said the system designed to uphold justice has failed her family. Her son has a family, sharing two young daughters with his wife.
“The right to bear arms and to defend himself is a cornerstone right granted to all Americans regardless of race," she said, while speaking to the people gathered in front of her.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann listened to the speakers at the rally, and invited a handful of individuals up to her office to discuss the case. Long's mother was one of them, along with Alexander Landau, who is the founder and co-executive director of the Denver Justice Project.
“We turned out for his freedom. We've demonstrated at the district attorney's office, and Beth McCann came downstairs to meet with us and she made a couple of commitments," Landau claimed. Why is Stephan being held on a $1 million bond, first of all?... This is ridiculous," said Landau. "This is a working man, this is a new father. This is a loved one with two degrees and no criminal background. This man isn't going anywhere. This man needs to go home. So, she [McCann] is committed to looking looking into a bond reduction.”
Landau also said the DA told them there is the chance the case could be dismissed.
“Stephan is a college graduate and a father and he will be coming home. And we will be back. We will be back on appeal if we have to," Landau said. “What I see is, in my mind, a clear case of self-defense.”
Denver7 asked Landau about the statements in the arrest papers that claimed Long did not call 911 and fled the scene.
“You're not thinking clearly. There has to be a level of empathy given to the trauma that he just endured," Landau said. "His immediate safety was probably more of a concern than calling 911 for the two men who just tried to harm him.”
Studies: Road rage stems from drivers' 'illusion of superiority'
Arthur Lucas spoke with Denver7 as he started his drive from Montrose to Denver for Long's court date on Friday. He is the father of the two men killed in the alleged road rage shooting, and described Damon as a leader and Blake as a kind person.
“Damon had that little bit of an attitude. Blake didn't. He was peaceful. You know, and everybody in our family thought, 'Oh, Damon jumped out first," Arthur explained. “When we found out it was the opposite, everybody just wondered, 'What happened that lead up to this situation that made Blake jump out of the car first?'"
Arthur believes there were other options Long had that day before firing a gun.
"You point the firearm at somebody, they're gonna turn around unless they're stupid," Arthur said. “I don't see where self-defense really is logical to claim right now.”
He said there should be at least one first-degree murder charge in the case.
“For the other one, okay, maybe involuntary manslaughter because yes, he [Blake] did jump out of the car first. You know, I'm a logical person, I don't think, 'Oh my god, this man [Long] needs to die," Arthur said. “The second one [Damon] was just trying to stop a man from fleeing the scene, as far as I know, and running to his brother's aide.”
Since June, Arthur said he has been tormented by the loss of his sons.
“In every nightmare, I feel that coldness that they had on their skin. It was just, just cold," Arthur said.
He also said he has been thinking of Long's family throughout this process.
“I honestly want to know how his family is doing, how they're holding up," Arthur said. “They're losing a child too. You know, they can still talk to theirs, and I can't, but they're still parents.”
The DA's office issued the following statement regarding the initial decision to charge Long with murder:
My office evaluates each case strictly on its merits and based on whether we believe we can prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That is exactly what we did in this case.
Long's preliminary hearing is currently scheduled for Friday, Aug. 25, at 1:30 p.m.