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Video shows exchange of gunfire that lead to death of 12-year-old boy in stolen car in Denver

It comes around a week after the Denver District Attorney's Office announced they would not file charges against the man who was involved in the shootout.

DENVER — New video shows the moments a man ran up to his stolen car before being involved in what police have called "an exchange of gunfire," that left a 12-year-old boy, Elias Armstrong, dead.

It comes around a week after the Denver District Attorney's Office announced they would not file charges against the man who was involved in the shootout. Police have not yet identified him. 

The video was first obtained by our partners at the Denver Gazette, and later posted to Facebook by a family member.

According to Denver Police, the car's owner reported it stolen in the 8300-block of E. Northfield Blvd. and tracked it with an app to the intersection of West 12th Avenue and North Decatur Street.

When the owner approached the car, he reported exchanging gunfire with at least one person inside, police said. 

12-year-old Elias Armstrong was hit during the exchange, and drove the car to W. 10th Avenue a few blocks away, where he died. 

Credit: Corky Scholl
The area near where the shooting occurred.

While it may be difficult to see in the surveillance video, and there is no audio, the owner of the stolen car appears to pull up in a separate vehicle and parks. 

Someone can be seen entering the driver's seat of the stolen vehicle. 

The man can then be seen running towards the stolen car. After the man runs to the car, smoke appears around the vehicle, seemingly from gunfire. The vehicle then drives off. 

Investigators have remained tight-lipped about the sequence of events leading up to the shooting, and have still not confirmed who may have fired a weapon first.

Police believe other suspects were in the vehicle with Armstrong and ran away after the car stopped. Those suspects have not been identified or located, as of Thursday. 

When asked this week if dispatch ever told the 911 caller not to pursue their car, or tell them to stop following it, a spokesperson replied via email saying, "Yes, which is standard guidance a dispatcher would provide a caller."

Thomas Armstrong, Elias' father, told 9NEWS over the phone Friday night that a vigil was held this week for his son, and called the DA's decision a "slap on the hand." 

"it's just wrong because it's his bullet that killed him," Armstrong said, adding that he will continue to be "praying for justice" for his son. 

Credit: Corky Scholl

District Attorney Beth McCann reiterated her decision in an emailed statement to 9NEWS Friday.

"My heart goes out to Elias Armstrong’s family in this time of terrible and overwhelming grief," she wrote. "I met with members of his family last week along with the DPD detective and members of my office to explain why a criminal case could not be brought based on the facts."

She added that the DA’s office can only file charges when guilt can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. 

"In this instance, we cannot file charges because of self-defense issues which were present at the time," her statement read.

Content warning: This video shows the moments surrounding the boy's death and may be disturbing to some viewers.

The Denver Gazette contributed to this story.


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