Denver Police spokesperson Sonny Jackson says officers were called to the zoo at 5:02 p.m. Monday after reports of a domestic dispute. Before officers could arrive, Jackson says a man was threatening his girlfriend and attacked a zoo security guard.
When officers arrived, the suspect refused to comply with officer's commands and was "acting irrationally," according to Jackson.
The suspect then resisted arrest, violently attacked zoo personnel and officers before he was shot with the stun gun in an attempt to subdue him, Jackson says. Officers were still unable to arrest the suspect for several minutes after being stunned because he continued to attack authorities.
One zoo employee was bitten in the incident and another suffered a head injury. One officer was hit by the man.
Jackson says officers called paramedics to examine the man because of his "unusual behavior and extraordinary strength." Before paramedics could arrive, the suspect began to convulse and stopped breathing. Jackson says the officers attempted life-saving efforts until paramedics arrived. The suspect was taken to Presbyterian/St. Luke's Hospital where he died around 6 p.m.
Drugs and drug paraphernalia were found on the suspect, Jackson says.
Family members identify the man who died in the incident as Ashley Alonzo, 29.
One of his family members told 9NEWS, "He's a positive kid. He's never been in any trouble."
His girlfriend who was with him at the time of the incident, who asked not to be named, told 9NEWS, "It was not a domestic dispute. He was really hot, getting delirious. Security would not leave him alone."
His brother Lenny Ashley told 9NEWS, "I know my brother; he's not violent."
Family members also told 9NEWS Alonzo, also known as "Tiger," loved the zoo. They say he was not biting and kicking when confronted by police and zoo staff, and he did not have any drugs on him.
Three Denver officers and one zoo employees were taken to Denver Health Medical Center for treatment.
The suspect's cause of death will be released pending an autopsy.
This remains an active investigation and Denver Police investigators are working with the Denver District Attorney's Office. Denver Police have interviewed numerous witnesses. There are concerns that there may be additional witnesses to this incident who have not been interviewed. Police are asking any zoo visitors at the time of this incident who information to call 720-913-6050.
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