JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo — Three 18-year-old suspects, who are high school seniors, were arrested in connection to a string of rock-throwing incidents at vehicles including the senseless attack that killed 20-year-old Alexa Bartell.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests Wednesday morning.
Bartell was killed on April 19 around 10:45 p.m. after a rock was thrown into her windshield while she was driving northbound on Indiana Street in Jefferson County.
The 18-year-old suspects were identified as Joseph Koenig, Nicholas “Mitch” Karol-Chik and Zachary Kwak and all were arrested at their Arvada homes, according to the sheriff’s office. They also confirmed that Koenig's father, Mark Edward Koenig, was arrested overnight for allegedly obstructing deputies as they tried to contact his son.
Announcing the arrests, Jacki Kelley, public information officer with the sheriff's office said the three suspects are seniors at different high schools. One attends Ralston Valley, one attends Standley Lake, and one participates in online schooling.
She said the suspects were arrested in their homes, brought to the sheriff's office Tuesday night and booked into the jail.
“This really came as a result of cell phone device forensics and supporting information from our public," Kelley said.
She noted more than 300 tips from the public during the week-long investigation.
The three suspects face charges of first-degree murder - extreme indifference related to Bartell's death and additional charges are expected to be filed in connection to the other rock-throwing incidents, the sheriff's office said.
Their first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.
Investigators said Bartell's vehicle was the last one in a series of vehicles to be struck by large landscaping rocks.
Her family was notified of the arrests early Wednesday morning.
"We were able to call them in the middle of the night once we had secured the suspects and brought them to the station. Those calls were made and they’re just so grateful," Kelley said. "They’re still suffering from the greatest loss possible but this is the beginning of the journey that they’ll be on next and they’re incredibly grateful that these suspects are at least identified and brought to justice for what they’ve done."
On Monday, two more people came forward to report they were victims in separate rock-throwing incidents on that same evening Bartell was killed.
Those incidents were reported on southbound Highway 93 between milemarker 128 and Coal Creek Canyon road, according to Jenny Fulton, public affairs director with the sheriff's office.
There were the other similar attacks reported that same evening:
- 10:04 p.m. on April 19 – Westminster - 100th Avenue and Simms Street – Rock through windshield, driver not injured
- 10:26 p.m. on April 19 - Arvada - Highway 93 at Highway 72 – Rock through windshield, minor injuries to driver
Between 10:26 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. on April 19:
- Jefferson County - Highway 93 near Highway 128 - No injuries. Rock thrown through minivan's driver's side windows.
- Jefferson County - Highway 93 near Highway 128 - No injuries. Rock cracked the windshield of a Subaru Forester
- Boulder County - McCaslin Boulevard and S. Indiana Street (entrance to Rock Creek neighborhood) - Rock through a windshield, minor injuries to driver
- Boulder County – McCaslin Boulevard and S. Indiana Street (entrance to Rock Creek neighborhood) - Rock vs. Toyota 4Runner with body damage to vehicle, driver not injured
- 10:45 p.m. – Jefferson County – 10600 block of Indiana St. – Rock thrown through the windshield of a yellow Chevy Spark, killing driver Bartell
Victim from Jefferson County rock-throwing incidents speaks out
Bartell's employer, Commercial Flooring Services offered a $15,000 reward for information in honor of their "youngest, brightest employee." Bartell's mother, Kelly, is also a CFS employee, the company said.
As flowers lined a broken fence near where Bartell was killed, friends shared with Denver7 their memories of a life cut short.
"She was a friend to everyone and brought so much joy into everyone's lives," a friend who asked not to be identified said.
"She was a very big personality. Everybody loved her," Bartell's friend Samantha Motisi said during a visit to a makeshift memorial Saturday.
"Alexa Bartell was the kindest, most loving, and most forgiving person I've ever met," said Lucy Geisleman, another friend of Bartell. "She had dreams and ambitions that were stolen from her and her loved ones. She always talked about the future — what kind of house she wanted and what her wedding would look like. In an instant, it was all taken away for absolutely no reason. She will be forever remembered and live on in our hearts and minds, since that's all we can have left of her."
Denver7's Stephanie Butzer contributed to this report.