DENVER, Colorado — EDITOR’S NOTE: 9NEWS is used to covering many different kinds of stories, but usually we’re not directly involved in them. For this reason, A.J. Lagoe from our sister station KARE in Minneapolis is covering the initial stages of the shooting and investigation.
Unlicensed security guard Matthew Dolloff, 30, is facing 2nd degree murder charges for the shooting and killing of 49-year-old Lee Keltner during dueling Denver rallies on Saturday, Oct. 10.
Separate from the criminal investigation, there is also an administrative investigation taking place because the city said Dolloff was not licensed to work as a security guard in Denver, or to be armed while doing so.
“There is no record of this individual ever being licensed or even applying for a security guard license in the city and county of Denver,” said Eric Escudero, the director of communications for Denver City and County Excise and Licenses.
This investigation finds Dolloff is not the only unlicensed or not properly credentialed security guard to accompany 9NEWS crews as they covered protests and riots during the past five months.
Because they were not licensed, those guards were not required to go through the extensive training Denver mandates all private security guards receive.
There are 16 hours of required training to receive a security guard license. Then, there are eight hours of additional security guard training each year for a license to be renewed.
There are additional hoops to jump through to get approval for armed status, which includes approval by the Denver Police Department.
A big part of the training those seeking a security guard license go through involves appropriate use of force.
“You can’t always go right to a firearm or lethal force,” said Grant Linhart, the president of the International Counterintelligence Services (ICS), one of the approved trainers for security guards seeking a license in Denver. “Licensing and training requirements are important, so you know your operational boundaries – otherwise you run amok.”
To cover protests and unrest in Denver, over the past several months 9NEWS has contracted with two security firms for guards to watch their field crews' backs.
Using Denver’s public licensing data, we were able to confirm the guards identified as provided by GardaWorld to 9NEWS were licensed.
However, one of the licensed guards who worked an Aug. 28 clash between protestors and Denver police outside District 6 headquarters was in plain clothes according to sources who observed him there.
He was not allowed to be per city regulations that state, “The Applicant cannot work as a security guard in plainclothes without first receiving an endorsement from the Department authorizing him/her to do so.”
In response to an inquiry as to that security guard’s license, Escudero wrote, “He does not have any endorsements for plainclothes or armed status on this license.”
Larry Letsinger, General Manager at GardaWorld Security Services, did not return calls seeking comment.
A corporate YouTube video on Pinkerton’s website uses the slogan, “We are Pinkerton, we never sleep.” In Denver, there are now serious questions being asked about whether Pinkerton was asleep at the switch by providing unlicensed security guard Matthew Dolloff to 9NEWS.
Pinkerton, in a statement posted to Facebook stated Dolloff was not an employee and was a contractor agent from a long-standing industry vendor. That seems to indicate Pinkerton believes it was someone else’s job to ensure Dolloff was licensed.
Pinkerton has refused to say who they subcontracted with for his services.
The day Dolloff pulled a gun and fired that fatal shot killing Keltner, Pinkerton had provided 9NEWS two guards for the competing “Patriot Muster” and “BLM-Antifa Soup Drive.”
The other guard, who worked with another 9NEWS reporting team, was a Pinkerton employee and fully licensed. Public records also show he was legally allowed to be armed and in plainclothes.
Dan Farrell, Managing Director of Pinkerton, acknowledged receiving an interview request for this report and said he was forwarding it on to a colleague.
No one from the company ever responded.
The Unlicensed Security Guards
This investigation identified four other guards, in addition to Dolloff, who provided security to 9NEWS crews since June of this year that had no license at all.
For example, the security guard working for 9NEWS on Sept. 23 - when a car drove through a protest following the grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case - was not licensed.
In response to an inquiry about this guard, Escudero wrote in an email “He does not have a security guard record.”
When asked about the status of three other guards who had provided security for 9EWS, Escudero wrote, “We double-checked. I can confirm no individuals by these names have ever held or even applied for a security guard individual license in the City and County of Denver.”
9NEWS management refused to confirm which security company those individual guards were contracted through.
They sent a statement that says:
"Pinkerton, the company 9NEWS contracted with, is responsible for ensuring the appropriate licensing of its guards or those it contracts with. 9NEWS does not contract directly with individual security personnel. 9NEWS had directed Pinkerton that security guards accompanying our personnel not be armed, and none of the 9NEWS’ crew accompanied by Mr. Dolloff on Saturday were aware that he was armed. 9NEWS no longer uses Pinkerton to provide security."
As part of the reporting for this investigation, each of the unlicensed security guards was called.
Just one answered the phone or returned a message. He is a former Greeley police officer, and said he only provided 9NEWS “executive protection” and stated, “I didn’t need a security guard license because I protected people not places.”
But that’s not accurate.
The Denver code states a license is required for anyone “Protecting individuals or property from harm…”
“I had no idea you needed a license to do executive protection work in Denver,” the guard said when informed of the law.
“If there is no record of a person with a security guard license and they are working as a security guard they are breaking the law,” Escudero said.
Three security companies have faced sanctions for unlicensed security guards since 2017.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced the murder charges against Matthew Dolloff will be filed in Denver District Court on Monday.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Local stories from 9NEWS