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Man shot by officer after causing explosion at Longmont hotel, police say

Leon Gladwell was recently released from prison after serving time for killing his grandmother.

LONGMONT, Colo. — A man who was recently released from prison after serving time for killing his grandmother was shot by an officer Thursday night in Longmont after he set off an explosion inside a hotel room, according to a release from the Longmont Police Department (LPD).

Just before 1 p.m. Thursday, members of the LPD CORE Unit and the Colorado State Parole attempted to contact 40-year-old Leon Gladwell at the Residence Inn at 1450 Dry Creek Rd. Gladwell is on parole and was living at the hotel, according to police.

They responded to the hotel after someone reported to police that Gladwell was afraid he was going to hurt someone and had access to knives and propane tanks in his room. 

Credit: Department of Corrections
Leon Gladwell

When officers tried to contact Gladwell near his room, he was "angry and uncooperative", a release from LPD says. LPD also said he was armed with several knives.

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Parole officers managed to collect the knives and get Gladwell into his room, but he refused to cooperate any further, police said.

In an effort to deescalate the situation, officers discontinued their contact and the Colorado State Parole obtained a felony arrest warrant for Gladwell. 

After verifying Gladwell was still in the room, officers and Longmont SWAT returned to the hotel to arrest Gladwell.

Credit: KUSA

During the second contact, Gladwell refused requests to exit his room, and at around 7:20 p.m., he detonated an unknown explosive device, which created a fireball in the room, activated the fire sprinklers, and blew out two windows of the third-floor room, according to LPD.

The explosion caused extensive damage to the hotel.

Officers continued to negotiate a surrender, but Gladwell refused to exit. More than an hour later, around 8:45 p.m., Gladwell approached the blown-out third floor window with was believed to be a propane tank and was shot by an officer, police said. 

Gladwell then moved out of sight and refused to exit. Officers eventually determined that Gladwell was incapacitated and entered the room just before midnight and took Gladwell into custody without incident. 

He was taken to the hospital for treatment of at least one gunshot wound.

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Gladwell served a 1998 prison sentence for murdering his grandmother in Boulder, and was first eligible for parole on May 26, 2016. He was granted release on April 2, 2020, according to a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Corrections.

According to prior 9NEWS coverage, Gladwell was 17 when he took a bike fork off a dissembled bicycle and beat 59-year-old Donna Gladwell to death. She had been raising him since he was 12.

Investigators and the Boulder County Regional Bomb Squad will be on scene throughout the night.

The Longmont officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave, per department policy, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Boulder County Investigations Team for the 20th Judicial District is investigating this case. This multi-agency team is designated to investigate incidents in which any law enforcement officer within the 20th Judicial District uses physical or deadly force against a person while acting under official law enforcement duties.

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