Sun | Aug 1, 2021

Colorado police seek motive in party shooting that killed 7

Published:Tuesday | May 11, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Family members mourn at the scene where their loved ones were killed early on Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Family members mourn at the scene where their loved ones were killed early on Sunday in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

DENVER (AP):

A shooting at a birthday party inside a trailer park home in Colorado Springs that killed six people, before the gunman took his own life, stunned a state weary of gun violence just weeks after another Colorado mass shooting killed 10 people.

Police on Monday were investigating what led the gunman, who they said was the boyfriend of one of the victims, to walk into the crowded party early on Sunday and open fire.

Six adults were killed at the home at the Canterbury Mobile Home Park on the east side of Colorado’s second-largest city, and a seventh died at a hospital, authorities said. The shooter was the boyfriend of a female victim at the party attended by friends, family and children, police said.

The authorities didn’t release the names of the victims, and the gunman, or disclose a possible motive. Nor did they release any further details on what weapon, or weapons, were used. Officials were still in the process of identifying the victims, Sandy Wilson of the El Paso County Coroner’s Office said on Monday.

A mobile crime lab was parked on Monday outside the home, which was cordoned off by yellow police tape as officers guarded the scene.

“My heart breaks for the families who have lost someone they love and for the children who have lost their parents,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement.

The attack follows a series of mass shootings across the US this year, including one on March 22 at a crowded supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people, including a police officer. The gunman in that attack faces multiple charges, including first-degree murder. He has yet to enter a plea, pending a mental health evaluation requested by his public defenders.

A neighbour, Yenifer Reyes, told The Denver Post that she woke to the sound of gunfire and later saw police escorting children who were “crying hysterically” from the home. The children weren’t hurt in the attack and have been placed with relatives, the police said.

The first fire crews to respond to the shooting were told to stay back because of possible gunfire — then given an all-clear to approach the home an agonising eight minutes after the initial dispatch, according to a recording of a Colorado Springs dispatch call.

As the magnitude of the shooting became clearer, the first on the scene requested more ambulances and engine crews. Sirens are heard in the background as responders at the scene request more help.

“Engine 11, sounds like more shots are still being fired – keep your distance,” a dispatcher says at one point. Twenty seconds later the engine crew responds: “Looking like we have multiple victims,” and asks for more ambulances. The dispatcher requests another engine to “2828 Preakness Way, possible multiple gunshot victims”.

More than eight minutes in, the dispatcher says that “police on scene are advising that there are four victims and that you are clear to go in.” Soon thereafter, Engine 11 requests another ambulance; 13 minutes in, the dispatcher says: “The sergeant on the scene is saying that medical is cleared to enter for all six patients ... . They’re saying we have six.”

The attack was the latest mass killing — defined as four or more dead, not including the shooter — to plague the US this year. Before the Colorado Springs shooting, a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University showed there had been at least 11 mass shootings since January 1, compared to just two public mass shootings in 2020.