Douglas County, CO – A trio of armed suspects in a stolen SUV led Douglas County sheriff’s deputies on a five-mile pursuit that ended in a massive gunfight on the interstate (video below).
The altercation began sometime between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when two Douglas County sheriff’s deputies spotted a Jeep Grand Cherokee driving recklessly, the Denver Post reported.
When the deputies ran the vehicle’s license plate, they learned that the SUV had been reported as stolen on Nov. 18, so they pulled the driver over.
But as soon as the vehicle stopped, the deputies “immediately started taking gunfire from passengers,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said, according to the Denver Post.
The driver sped off, leading the deputies on a chase through Centennial and Greenwood Village, where the suspects again shot at the pursuing deputies, Sheriff Spurlock explained.
The men in the suspect vehicle tossed items from the SUV in four separate locations, then circled around Park Meadows Mall.
“They were eluding us the entire time we were pursuing them,” the sheriff told KUSA.
Dashcam footage captured the moment that the deputies rammed the Jeep, shutting it down at Interstate 25 and Dry Creek Road.
Five deputies immediately converged on the scene, at which point the suspects again opened fire, the Denver Post reported.
“My officers returned fire,” Sheriff Spurlock said. “We struck and killed one suspect.”
“All my officers are fine,” he added. “They were not injured.”
Nicholas Ryan, 19, was fatally shot by the police during the incident, according KMGH.
A second suspect was wounded by gunfire, but was expected to survive.
The third suspect, 20-year-old Peirce Langewisch, was arrested on an outstanding Denver warrant for failure to register as a sex offender.
“You could hear the loud car crash at first, so I thought it was a wreck,” witness Chris Padilla told KCNC. “Then I heard the ‘Pop! Pop! Pop!’ It sounded like an exchange of gunfire. That’s when I knew something was going on.”
“For the next 30 minutes all you heard was nothing but sirens from all the cops and [I] saw the ambulances, two or three of them,” Padilla added.
Investigators have recovered several items the trio allegedly threw from the vehicle during the pursuit, but the sheriff did not disclose what types of items they found, the Denver Post reported.
At least one suspect’s firearm was located at the crash scene.
“We suspect that these individuals may have been involved in some other crimes that we are in the middle of looking at, so there is an extensive investigation going on with parties related to these individuals,” Sheriff Spurlock explained, according to KUSA.
“It may take some time to do that,” he added.
The Arapaho County Sheriff’s Office and 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler are handling the ongoing investigation, the sheriff told the Denver Post.
The deputies involved in the incident have been placed on paid administrative leave, as per policy.
“This is a traumatic event right now, obviously, for anyone,” Sheriff Spurlock said. “It’s a serious event when we end up having to use force.”
The sheriff said he released a portion of the video footage so citizens could better understand what had occurred, but noted that some of the footage could not be immediately released due to the ongoing investigation, KUSA reported.
“The reason why I selected that portion to show you is I think it’s important for the greater metropolitan area to understand why we shut down a major intersection for over 12 hours to conduct an investigation where an individual was shot and killed and others were injured,” Sheriff Spurlock said. “I think it’s important you see as much as that which was appropriate to show.”
You can watch dashcam footage of the suspect vehicle getting rammed int below: