ESTES PARK, Colo. — A man who pleaded guilty earlier this year to shooting a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park was sentenced on Monday to federal prison.
Daron Ellis pleaded guilty to attempted murder of a federal officer and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, prosecutors said. He was sentenced in federal court to 23 years and six months in prison, followed by eight years of supervised release, according to court documents.
According to an arrest affidavit, Ellis shot at the ranger with a handgun near Highway 34, just a few yards into Rocky Mountain National Park, around 10:15 a.m. Dec. 8. Another person in the car said the ranger fired back, hitting Ellis.
The shooting happened after the ranger attempted to stop the vehicle that Ellis was driving, the affidavit says. About a half hour earlier, a Colorado State Patrol trooper had pulled over the driver of that vehicle for speeding on Highway 34. During that traffic stop, the trooper determined that both the vehicle and license plate had been stolen. The vehicle and plate came back as registered to separate owners, the affidavit says.
At one point during the stop, the driver, later identified as Ellis, got out of the vehicle without being asked. He eventually did a three-point turn and drove off, the affidavit says. The trooper followed him for about a quarter-mile before ending the pursuit.
Ellis drove through Estes Park before entering park grounds and encountering the park ranger, the affidavit says.
A woman who was in the car with Ellis said when they encountered the ranger, Ellis "fishtailed" the car and went off the road and hit rocks, the affidavit says. The woman said the ranger got out of his car and approached their vehicle with his gun drawn and ordered them to "get out" with their hands up and threatened to shoot them, the document says.
She reported that Ellis got a handgun and fired at the ranger "until he was out of ammunition," the affidavit says. She said she believed that Ellis fired first and the ranger fired back, striking Ellis.
The ranger was protected by a ballistic vest and did not suffer serious injuries, according to the National Park Service.
Ellis also faces state charges in connection with the incident.
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