GOLDEN, Colo. — The armed suspect who shot and killed a Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) police dog and caused a shelter-in-place order at the Colorado School of Mines was taken into custody Monday morning.
K9 Graffit had served the department since fall 2015, a spokesperson said. The German Shepherd was trained in narcotics detection and patrol roles, including the apprehension of suspects.
Deputies escorted the dog's flag-draped body from the crime scene to the campus of CSU in Fort Collins. Vets there conducted a forensic necropsy Monday to examine the dog in a way that ensures evidence of his death can be submitted in court.
Golden Police confirmed the suspect was Eduardo Armando Romero, 29. They also said the necropsy confirmed a bullet from Romero's gun killed Graffit.
About 12:15 a.m. Monday, Golden Police Department (GPD) officers responded to assist the Colorado School of Mine's Police Department near 19th Street and Elm Street in Golden, according to GPD.
Jeffco Sheriff's police dog Graffit through the years
Officers responded to a vehicle where the driver was slumped over the steering wheel of a running vehicle and was not responsive to attempts to alert him, police said.
The driver eventually woke up and attempted to drive away slowly while swerving into oncoming traffic, according to police. The driver stopped at 19th Street and Tangent Way and slumped back over the steering wheel, police said in their release. According to an arrest affidavit from the Golden Police Department, it was later determined that vehicle, a 2013 Jeep was reported stolen from Englewood in December. It also had license plates belonging to a different Jeep that were reported stolen from Denver.
At one point officers "pinched" Romero's Jeep in an effort to prevent him from driving any further, the affidavit says. At that point, he rammed one officer's car pushing it about five feet forward. A second police vehicle was also struck.
Officers broke the driver's window and put the vehicle in park, police said.
An officer was able to grab Romero's arm but he lost his grip when Romero's wristwatch slipped off, the affidavit says. Romero then ran eastbound on 19th Street and pointed a handgun at officers.
The suspect ran into a wooded area and police established a perimeter, police said. A shelter-in-place order was issued for the Colorado School of Mines campus as police conducted a search for the suspect, according to police.
A JCSO K9 unit was brought in to assist in the search for the suspect, GPD said in their release. JCSO K9, Graffit, was released and given the command to apprehend the suspect, police said.
The suspect fired shots, striking and killing Graffit, according to GPD. A JCSO deputy returned fire, police said. The JCSO Regional SWAT Team responded to search for the suspect, police said.
About 5:54 a.m., the suspect came out of hiding and surrendered to officers, according to GPD.
Romero said he had run from officers because he was aware of several outstanding warrants he had, the affidavit says. He also claimed that he had three margaritas earlier in the evening and couldn't remember some parts of the evening. He said his first memory was being woken up right before the ramming and foot chase, according to the affidavit.
He told investigators he knew a K9 was coming toward him but denied pointing his gun at the K9 but "heard the gun fire a round," the affidavit says. He said he "assumed he shot the ground."
The incident is under investigation by the School of Mine's Police Department and the First Judicial District Attorney's Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) will be investigating the shooting involving the deputy.
Romero was being held on suspicion of possible charges including:
- Felony menacing
- Aggravated cruelty to animals
- Prohibited use of weapons
- Criminal mischief
- Criminal impersonation
- Motor vehicle theft
- Resisting arrest
- Obstructing police or fire dog
- Vehicular eluding
- Driving under restraint
- Driving under the influence
9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson said the suspect could face additional charges for killing the dog. Injuring a police dog is a class one misdemeanor and could be punishable by up to a year in jail, he said.
Robinson said a more serious charge the suspect could face is aggravated cruelty to animals, which is a Class 6 felony and punishable by up to three years in prison and a $100 thousand fine.
A procession for K9 Graffit happened around 9 a.m. Monday. Watch a replay in the video player below:
Jeffco Sheriff's police dog Graffit through the years
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