DENVER, Colorado — The unlicensed security guard charged with second-degree murder following a deadly shooting at dueling Denver protests appeared in court Wednesday morning.
The public defenders representing Matthew Dolloff, 30, said they have filed motions in county court that have so far gone unaddressed in district court. Public Defender Valerie Cole at one point said there was "obvious evidence of self defense" in the case.
Judge Shelley Gilman said those motions were filed late at night and she has not had time to review them. They will be discussed at another court appearance on Friday. No other details about their contents were discussed in open court.
Dolloff has been held in the Downtown Detention Center since the Oct. 10 shooting that led to the death of 49-year-old Lee Keltner. His bail has been set at $500,000.
Dolloff was formally charged on Monday. Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced that she was planning on a second-degree murder charge last week.
Dolloff was arrested on Oct. 10 following the shooting near the Denver Art Museum. It happened near the end of two dueling demonstrations that included members of Black Lives Matter and other groups on one side, as well as people attending what they dubbed a “Patriot Muster.”
According to the probable cause (PC) statement released by the Denver Police Department Tuesday, Keltner and another individual engaged in a "verbal dispute" and "both men yelled and postured" while walking with a group around 3:30 p.m. near the DAM during the rally. Witnesses told investigators they believed "the men may engage in a physical altercation," the PC statement says.
Keltner was then observed holding a bottle of OC spray prior to striking Dolloff in the side of the head with an open hand following an altercation in front of the DAM, according to the PC statement.
Dolloff then pulled a gun from his waistband and fired one shot at the same time Keltner sprayed the OC, the PC statement says. Keltner immediately collapsed, the PC statement says, and officers quickly took custody of Dolloff.
Keltner was taken to the hospital, where he was declared dead at 4:05 p.m., the PC statement says.
Keltner, reportedly a Navy veteran, worked as a hatter and was also a part of Colorado’s Motorcycle community. The Biker Down Charity has started a fundraiser for his family, describing him as a husband, father and friend to many.
Dolloff was contracted through the company Pinkerton by 9NEWS. It has been the practice of 9NEWS for a number of months to contract private security to accompany staff at protests.
Pinkerton said it does not actually employ Dolloff – Pinkerton did not share the name of the company for which Dolloff worked. Pinkerton on Monday released the following statement via its Facebook page:
According to Eric Escudero, marketing and communications manager for the city’s Department of Excise and Licenses, “there is no record” that Dolloff had a license required by the city to work as a security guard – and no evidence he’d had one in the past.
City law defines a security guard as “a person employed or engaged by a private security employer to perform security services.”
Dolloff was issued a concealed carry permit in June 2018, which was viable for five years, according to Elbert County Sheriff Tim Norton. Norton said he suspended the permit shortly after the shooting.
Doug Richards, an attorney for the Dolloff family, said in a statement:
"Matt was acting in self-defense. Matt put his life and now his liberty in between the now-deceased and the 9NEWS employee. This was not a political assignment for Matt. This was simply Matt protecting your employee.”
9NEWS management released the following statement about the incident:
“9NEWS continues to cooperate fully with law enforcement and is deeply saddened by this loss of life.
“For the past few months, it has been the practice of 9NEWS to contract private security, through an outside firm, to accompany our personnel covering protests. Pinkerton, the private security firm, is responsible for ensuring its guards or those it contracts with are appropriately licensed. 9NEWS does not contract directly with individual security personnel.”
An additional statement from 9NEWS management was released Tuesday:
"As stated [Monday], 9NEWS does not contract directly with individual security personnel. 9NEWS contracted with Pinkerton and had directed that security guards accompanying our personnel not be armed. None of 9NEWS’ crew accompanied by Mr. Dolloff on Saturday were aware that he was armed.”
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