BRIGHTON, Colo. — The local district attorney's office and police department have agreed that, based on their evidence, no arrests or charges should be filed after two teenagers were shot and killed in a Northglenn backyard in early October.
"The evidence clearly shows that the resident of the home acted in self-defense when he returned fire after being fired upon multiple times," the Northglenn Police Department and Adams County District Attorney's Office said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
On the afternoon of Oct. 2, a resident in a home along Pearl Street near the intersection of E. 116th Avenue in Northglenn saw an unknown person in his backyard, cutting the leaves and branches of his marijuana plant with a machete, the district attorney's office said.
The resident grabbed a .45-caliber handgun, walked outside and said, "Really? Get out of here," according to the district attorney's office. The unknown person ran into a shed attached to the residence. The resident told police he then saw a muzzle aimed in his direction and flashes, and heard several gunshots from inside the shed.
The resident returned fire around 2 p.m.
The unknown person, as well as a second person who was in the shed at the time, both were hit by the gunfire — one in the back of the head and one in the chest. One of them died at the scene and the other died at a local hospital.
They were later identified as a 15-year-old and 16-year-old, both males.
The resident was not injured.
Officers with the Northglenn Police Department responded to the scene. There, they recovered a .40-caliber handgun and three fired 0.40-caliber shell casings near the shed, plus a machete-style knife just outside it.
As officers arrived, the resident put his hands in the air and had placed his unloaded semi automatic handgun in plain view on his patio when officers arrived, according to a police report. He was brought to the police department, where he explained what had led to the shooting. The report detailed that the resident was shaking and visibly emotional during the interview.
The resident said his daughter, who was upstairs, first alerted him to the people in the backyard. He grabbed his pistol and ran outside to yell at the teenagers, who were cutting at a large marijuana plant with a machete. After the teen ran into the shed, the resident said he "saw muzzle flash inside of the f---ing... inside the shed.... and it was at that point that I... returned fire," the report reads.
Crying, he told police that after he started hearing moaning and he started telling the teens, "Keep your f---ing eyes open, stay awake, don't go to sleep, you're going to be fine, the cops are on their f---ing way, the ambulance will be here," the report read. The resident told police he did not want the teens to die.
His wife called 911 and he guarded them at gunpoint until officers arrived at the scene. When he heard the sirens, he removed the chambered live round and put the gun on the patio. This matched what was recorded on an officer's body cam.
Based on ballistic evidence, police determined the teens' alleged shots were fired from inside the shed toward the resident.
Police also learned that the two teenagers had been suspects in a trespassing incident at another property earlier that day, likely between 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m, according to the police report. They had allegedly broken into that home by throwing something through a window and stole a toy airsoft AK-47 replica, which was recovered at the scene of the fatal shooting, according to the district attorney's office and police report.
One of the teens had just left juvenile detention on Sept. 30.
In the joint statement between District Attorney Brian Mason and Northglenn Police Chief Jim May, both said they had agreed that this case did not warrant any charges or arrests.
"The outcome of this incident is tragic," the statement concludes. "Two teenagers are dead, and their loss is heartbreaking. The District Attorney’s Office and the Northglenn Police Department must follow the law and the evidence, however, and the evidence clearly shows that the resident of the home acted in self-defense when he returned fire after being fired upon multiple times. Therefore, the resident will not be arrested or charged in this incident."