ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Every morning, Jennifer Coder wakes to check her phone for a text message she knows will never come.
"It's hard to remember that I'm not going to get that anymore," Coder said.
The daily texts from Matthew Mitchell weren't just entertaining. They made his girlfriend feel loved.
"Just anything during his day, and I loved every minute of it," Coder said.
The last text Coder received from Mitchell came through on July 24. Coder responded, but her replies went unanswered.
She found out the next day she'd lost her high school sweetheart and boyfriend of four-and-a-half years.
“I love him so much that I can’t believe that this is what happened," Coder said.
On the night of the 24th, Englewood Police were called to a home on South Grove Street.
Police records show that Mitchell's mother called police after her eldest son, Phillip Blankenship, 29, threatened suicide and fired a gun in the house.
What happened next varies on the account from police. Originally, Englewood Police said in a statement that officers were "met by gunfire."
Days later, the Englewood Police chief revealed in a taped and edited video statement that the gunfire didn't start until 28 minutes after officers arrived on scene.
The chief said officers were able to get two family members out of the home and to safety before Blankenship fired shots at police.
Englewood Police said officers fired back. Matthew Mitchell, 22, was inside the home with his brother and was killed by gunfire, police said. Englewood Police have not explicitly said who shot Mitchell.
Blankenship survived and was arrested for criminal attempted first-degree murder. On July 29, a judge signed a gag order in the case preventing attorneys and law enforcement from releasing information that could threaten the fairness of a trial.
“I want people to know that [Matthew] didn’t deserve this," Coder said.
Coder wants people to know about the young man she loved. She said he was a talented cook who could whip up something delicious without a recipe.
She said he had a gift for connecting with people and could "charm anyone that he met." If Coder was Mitchell's first love, his dog, Misha, was his second. The two of them were always cuddling, she said.
Coder and Mitchell had plans to visit Japan and eventually move out of state together.
“He deserved so much better, and I was planning on giving him such a good life," Coder said. "And now there’s so many things that he’s not going to be able to experience.”
Coder doesn't know where life will take her, but she will keep Matthew's memory as close as the rings on her fingers. They were gifts from her boyfriend.
"Matthew had given me three different rings," Coder said, twirling the bands on her fingers. "I don't think I'll ever take these rings off."
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