DENVER — Records show the man being held for investigation in the deadly shooting near dueling demonstrators in Denver on Saturday was working as a security guard but was not properly licensed, 9Wants to Know has learned.
The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner on Monday identified the victim as Lee Keltner, 49.
The suspect, Matthew Dolloff, 30, 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. Denver Police said in a tweet that Dolloff was "acting in a professional capacity as an armed security guard."
Pinkerton, however, 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:
Denver7 reported they have also used Pinkerton for security and have learned Dolloff was at the U.S. Senate debate hosted by the T.V. station on Friday.
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 Monday morning.
Dolloff was arrested moments after a single gunshot rang out on the plaza between the Denver Art Museum and the city’s main library. He was on Sunday being held without bail on suspicion of first-degree murder following the shooting that left one man dead.
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.”
Investigators have concluded that Dolloff was acting as a security guard at the time of the incident, according to a tweet from the Denver Police Department (DPD). It reads, in part, “further investigation has revealed that, at the time of the shooting, the suspect was acting in a professional capacity as an armed security guard for a local media outlet and not a protest participant.”
Dolloff could face a fine of up to $999 and a year in jail, Escudero said, if convicted of violating city law about security licensing.
And the company that employs him could also face ramifications under the law – the city ordinance requires such companies to make sure all of its security guards are licensed.
But it’s not clear who Dolloff actually works for. In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Pinkerton officials described him as a contractor.
“We are in the process of still gathering information to better understand the incident that occurred in Denver on October 10 involving a contractor agent,” the statement says. “The agent in question is not a Pinkerton employee. Pinkerton is fully cooperating with law enforcement authorities in their investigation of this matter.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock in a Monday news conference also addressed the situation.
"Obviously a tragedy this weekend that is still under investigation. A great deal of review is taking place in terms of reviewing the videos and what happened — trying to understand everything," he said. "We still of course are taking a look at the individual who is a suspect in the case who was not in compliance with Denver licensing with regards to being licensed — the security company has to be licensed, the individual security guard has to be licensed, and if you are an armed security officer, you must also have the endorsement of the Department of Safety, and we do know that this individual didn't have either of those endorsements or licenses in place.
"The lack of credentials really is concerning to us. ... While this is still under investigation, we do plan to pursue fully the scope of our legal power within the situation. [We] will allow the investigation to go forward. ... We encourage people to demonstrate safely, to demonstrate without violence in our city and to exercise your first amendment right. ... We will hold folks accountable for acting with violence and destruction in our community."
The Denver City Attorney’s Office (CAO) “will weigh any additional criminal charges related to the defendant possibly operating as an unlicensed security guard once the Denver Police Department completes its homicide investigation,” said Ryan Luby, spokesman for the CA's Office. “The CAO is also working with the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses to weigh disciplinary action against the security guard company for hiring and deploying an unlicensed guard, one without a license, much less an armed endorsement.”
Denver CAO on Monday released an additional statement saying:
"Licensed security guard employers that hire unlicensed security guards could face disciplinary actions against their licenses ranging from a fine, to suspension, to revocation. Businesses could also face criminal charges for permitting or directing an unlicensed person to perform security services. Regarding Matthew Dolloff, there could be civil or criminal actions taken, or both, against Mr. Dolloff, Pinkerton, 9News, and/or any other entity that hired and deployed Dolloff in an unlicensed security guard capacity."
Saturday’s incident came near the end of dueling demonstrations that included members of Black Lives Matter and other groups on one side, as well as people attending what was called a "Patriot Muster." The gatherings were dispersing when a group of people gathered in the plaza near the art museum.
Photographs and videos show the immediate moment of the confrontation, what appears to be physical contact between a demonstrator and Dolloff, a spray of a chemical irritant and a gunshot.
Doug Richards, an attorney for the Dolloff family, said in a statement Sunday:
"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.”
Denver prosecutors are expected to decide in the coming days whether he will be charged with a crime.
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 yesterday, 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.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Jason Whitely contributed to this report. 9NEWS is used to covering many different kinds of stories, but usually, we’re not directly involved in them. For this reason, Jason Whitely from our sister station WFAA in DALLAS is covering the initial stages of the shooting and investigation.
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