2 Denver cops still hospitalized after hours-long standoff; gunman dead
The two officers who were shot remained hospitalized in fair condition
Saja Hindi shindi, Kirk Mitchell and Elise Schmelzer
The Denver Post
DENVER — The man accused of shooting two Denver police officers over the weekend died Monday, investigators announced. The officers were shot in a hours-long standoff that ended with a house on fire and the suspected gunman taken away in an ambulance.
In a brief written statement, Denver police said their investigation is still active, and pre-emptively announced that no further information is expected to be released to the public until interviews are completed next week.
Officials have not said how the suspect died, nor what injuries he sustained in Sunday’s standoff at a home on Inca Street near its intersection with Sixth Avenue.
The two officers who were shot remained hospitalized Monday in fair condition, police said.
Neither police nor the Denver coroner has publicly identified the suspect. But jail records show 35-year-old Joseph Quintana was arrested on an attempted-murder charge around midnight Sunday. The suspect’s arrest documents are sealed from public view.
Neighbors William Evans and Gillian McCune told The Denver Post that during the standoff they heard police addressing the suspect as “Joe Quintana” over a bullhorn. Prior to the shooting, Quintana’s name was aired over the police radio, though the context was unclear, according to archived scanner traffic.
And Evans told The Post that Quintana lived at 622 N. Inca St., the home where the standoff took place. Public property records show the house is owned by a Mary Quintana.
An earlier call
Though police had said on Sunday that the incident near Inca and Sixth began with a shots-fired call around 11:40 a.m., archived radio traffic indicates officers had been dispatched to that same area to investigate the sound of gunfire five hours earlier.
At 6:21 a.m. Sunday, Denver officers responded to a report of a single shot fired in the 600 block of Inca Street, according to archived police radio traffic. A caller who lived in the area reported hearing a man yelling and the sound of a gunshot, possibly in an alley. However, there’s no indication officers found anything in the area.
Then, around 11:40 a.m., police were called again — from a different phone number, according to the archived radio traffic — about a man, believed to be about 40, who had shot at two men riding bicycles from the northeast corner of Sixth and Inca. The witness said it appeared the suspect was carrying a black rifle.
It’s unclear what occurred between that initial report at 11:40 a.m. and when the suspect shot the two officers shortly before 1:30 p.m. Following the shooting, radio traffic indicates that all available Denver police officers were called to the scene. An officer can be heard saying that an armed suspect was in the basement and that no one else was in the house — and that he heard another gunshot.
The two officers who were shot have not been publicly identified by the Denver Police Department “out of respect for the officers and their families.” A third officer was injured in a crash while responding to the shooting call, but he was treated and released from the hospital.
Following the shooting Sunday afternoon, a reverse-911 call was sent to neighbors, and police began closing off roads.
The standoff between police and the suspect intensified, and dozens of police officers flooded the neighborhood. In a bid to get the gunman out of the house, officers deployed chemical agents after 4 p.m.
The house caught fire after 5 p.m., though police have not confirmed the cause of the blaze. Denver fire Capt. Greg Pixley said on Monday that fire department investigators are waiting for police to conclude their work before they can determine what started the fire.
Residents in close proximity were evacuated and the suspect was taken into custody around 6 p.m. He was taken away by ambulance.
Denver police declined to release any information on Monday about prior service calls to the 600 block of Inca Street, citing the ongoing investigation. The archived radio traffic from Sunday indicated that police had responded to 622 Inca St. in June and August of last year. However, details about the circumstances of those calls were not broadcast.
Kidnapping and menacing arrests
Quintana’s prior criminal history includes 2007 and 2013 arrests.
Westminster police arrested Quintana on a felony menacing charge on Jan. 23, 2007, according to Colorado court records. The charge was dismissed in a deal with prosecutors in which he agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault, according to Jefferson County District Court records. He was sentenced to one year of probation.
On Feb. 4, 2013, Denver police arrested Quintana on charges of felony kidnapping, kidnapping by seizing or carrying the victim and two counts of child abuse, Denver District Court records show. A police affidavit from the case states that Quintana, who lived at the same Inca Street address at the time, had gotten into his girlfriend’s car and threatened to stab her in the neck with a razor he was holding in his hand. The woman’s two young children were in the backseat at the time. When Quintana later exited the car, he slashed one of the woman’s tires before fleeing.
Quintana entered into a plea agreement in that case, too, and pleaded guilty to lesser charges of misdemeanor assault and menacing with a real or simulated weapon in exchange for the dismissal of the kidnapping and child-abuse charges. He was sentenced on Aug. 15, 2014, to two years of probation. When he violated the terms of his probation, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, court records show.
“Something was a little off”
Evans was in his home adjacent to Quintana’s when the incident began Sunday.
In the past, he said, he’d heard yelling between Quintana and his mother and others who were living in the home. Quintana often could be heard arguing and was consistently hanging around the residence, Evans said. He knew the 35-year-old as someone who was regularly in and out of jobs and was often high or drunk.
Still, Evans said he never felt threatened by Quintana, and the rest of the family has always been courteous to him.
“I felt really bad for his mother,” Evans said.
Evans called Quintana a man who felt disenfranchised after the neighborhood he grew up in became gentrified. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots on other occasions coming from his home and disturbances that attracted a police presence.
“I always felt something was a little off with him,” Evans said.
Witness to shooting, fire
During Sunday’s incident, Evans said he saw Quintana’s family members go outside without him. He said he then saw Quintana exit the home, and that’s when he witnessed one of the officers getting shot. But Evans believes Quintana quickly retreated back inside as officers returned fire.
Police decided to use chemical agents in an effort to get Quintana to exit his home, and had been seen ripping out doors and breaking windows. Evans said that after he saw a fourth chemical canister launched into the home, a fire broke out inside the structure.
Then, Evans began to feel the heat in his own home and he smelled smoke. The SWAT team helped him and his pets evacuate, he said, and around that time he heard what he believed to be gunshots from inside Quintana’s home.
“This is another issue of how mental illness and not enough (availability) of social programs allows disenfranchised people to become violent and self-destructive, and that bleeds into the community,” he said.
McCune, who lives across the street from the Quintana, said she had never talked to the family though she’s seen them before, and the whole incident felt “surreal.” She was stuck inside her home all day as the standoff ensued.
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