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Man sentenced to 96 years for shooting Fort Lupton officer

Matthew Cotter was sentenced to 96 years in prison for the Dec. 2019 shooting of Sgt. Christopher Pelton.

WELD COUNTY, Colo. — A man convicted in the shooting of a Fort Lupton Police Department (FLPD) sergeant was sentenced to 96 years in prison.

Matthew Cotter was found guilty by a Weld County jury in February in the Ponderosa Place shooting of Sgt. Christopher Pelton on Dec. 2, 2019. Pelton's jaw was shattered when he was shot in the face, and he spent more than a week in an intensive care unit.

> Video above from Dec. 2019: 19-year-old admits firing 3 or 4 shots at Fort Lupton officer, affidavit says

The Weld County District Attorney's Office said Cotter was convicted on more than a dozen charges:

  • Four counts of attempted first-degree murder
  • One count attempted first-degree assault
  • One count of attempted assault
  • Six counts crime of violence
  • One count reckless endangerment
  • One count prohibited use of a weapon

Cotter faced between 48 and 96 years in prison. He will receive credit for about 2.5 years of time served.

Credit: Weld County Sheriff's Office
Matthew Cotter


Officers responded to a home on Ponderosa Place around 9 p.m. on Dec. 2 after a resident reported her daughter's ex-boyfriend, who was identified as Cotter, had threatened to harm her daughter and kill himself, according to a Greeley Police Department (GPD) affidavit.

The officers checked the area but did not locate Cotter or his vehicle, the affidavit says.

Officers responded roughly two hours later for another call from the same home, with the caller reporting Cotter was parked outside the home with his lights turned off, according to the affidavit.

The caller said Cotter sent a text message to his ex-girlfriend saying "it's too late," and also said he was armed, according to the affidavit.

RELATED: Body camera footage released after man found guilty in shooting of Fort Lupton officer

Officers responded again but did not see Cotter, so they asked dispatch to have someone from the home come out to meet them, the affidavit says.

A short time later, an officer announced over the radio that shots had been fired, and that an officer and had both been shot, according to the affidavit.

> WARNING: This video contains strong language and graphic violence, which may be disturbing to some viewers.

Cotter met with detectives a day after the shooting, and agreed to talk with them after waiving his rights, the affidavit says.

He told the detectives he was at the home on Ponderosa Place when he heard police sirens approaching, according to the affidavit. He took a handgun from the car, loaded a round in the chamber and ran behind a fence to hide, the document says.

RELATED: Affidavit: 19-year-old admits firing 3 or 4 shots at Fort Lupton officer

Cotter told detectives that he saw officers arrive through a slat in the fence and then, the affidavit says, he "admitted shooting three or four rounds from his handgun at an officer." 

"I shot, he dropped, they shot, I dropped," Cotter said, according to the document.

Cotter said he heard officers approaching and tried to run away, but he was immediately shot and taken into custody, according to the affidavit.

Janet Oravetz contributed to the reporting in this story.

Editor's note: A previous version of the story stated an incorrect prison sentence length. 

Credit: Fort Lupton PD
Sgt. Christopher Pelton

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