AURORA, Colo. — A suspect was arrested in the deadly shooting of a volunteer firefighter on Interstate 70 Saturday evening, Aurora Police Department said.
Jeremy Rocha, 20, was taken into custody in Commerce City Thursday on suspicion of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted first-degree murder, according to police. Investigators do not believe Rocha has a criminal record.
The victim was identified as John Jaros by the Glen Haven Area Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as assistant chief.
Police said Jaros was driving his pickup truck east on I-70 near Colfax Avenue around 5:35 p.m. Jaros' wife and three children were also in the truck.
Police said the incident involved a street racing event that did not appear to be planned in advance. A "handful" of cars had stopped eastbound traffic on I-70 between Tower Road and E-470. Four particular cars were racing, and several additional cars were behind them, according to police.
Jaros was in the process of driving around the stopped traffic when several gunshots were fired at his pickup, police said. Jaros was hit by one round and died at the scene. His wife and children were not injured.
Jaros' wife, Katie, then leaned over, put the pickup in neutral and was able to guide it to the shoulder.
"The strength that she demonstrated that particular day with everything that had happened inside that truck is admirable," APD Commander Rob McGregor said.
Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the shooting, but said there was no evidence of any vehicle-to-vehicle contact that could have provoked a violent reaction.
Police do not believe anyone else fired a gun, and no additional charges are expected to be filed at this time.
Investigators credited the community for coming forward and helping them piece together enough information to make an arrest.
"It was just within the last 48 hours that things started to come together due to that input from our community," Major Bob Wesner said.
All known witnesses have been interviewed, but anyone else who may have information is asked to contact police at 303-739-6113.
"This is one of the most difficult cases in my 30-plus years that we've had to work," McGregor said. "It impacted all of our investigators to the point that they were working very hard to solve this crime quickly. Especially since it happened on the eve of Father's Day."
A statement from Katie Jaros, John's wife, was shared by police Thursday:
"I would like to say thank you to the law enforcement agencies that worked diligently to apprehend the person responsible for my husband's murder. I don't think I'll ever be able to fully express my gratitude."
"I have been so overwhelmed with all of the support that is pouring out from the local communities surrounding us. We have an amazing community that we are a part of, and I am so grateful for everything everyone is doing for us."
"I would like to ask for the continued respect of our privacy as I try to navigate through the changes in our lives. As I walk through this grieving process with our children, please be praying for us that God will give us peace and, over time, hearts of forgiveness. I know God is faithful and we trust his plans for our lives."
"I would also like to ask for prayers for the young man who took my husband's life, and that he would one day have the opportunity to experience God's love, mercy and forgiveness."
A fund to help Jaros' family has been set up at the Bank of Estes Park. Donations can be made by mail or in-person to The Jaros Family Fund Donation Account.
The Bank of Estes Park
c/o The Jaros Family Fund Account
P.O. Box 2390
Estes Park, CO 80517
In person at branch locations:
- 255 Park Lane, Estes Park
- 501 St. Vrain Lane, #100, Estes Park
- 7989 Niwot Road, Longmont
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