DENVER - An accused 7-Eleven hostage-taker fatally shot by Denver police last week had called his parents from the convenience store to say, "I'm not going to prison for the rest of my life."
Police said an officer shot 34-year-old Blas Bernardo Leroux during the Jan. 13 standoff at the 7-Eleven at West Colfax Avenue and Perry Street to protect a hostage the man was using as a human shield.
Police said Leroux exited the store holding a woman hostage in front of him in an effort to escape. Officers ordered him to let the woman go, and police said an officer shot Leroux when he tried to pull the hostage back into the store.
Leroux's mother, Michelle Romero Leroux, told 7NEWS reporter Jaclyn Allen her son was shot in the neck. Police initially said he'd been shot in the shoulder area.
Michelle Romero Leroux said her son called her and his stepfather, Jim Solano, from the 7-Eleven during the hostage standoff.
"He told me his friend was pinning a drug case on him, and that he wasn't going to go back to prison," the mother said. "I thought he was joking, but then I heard the lady hollering."
Solano said he told his stepson to put down the gun if he had one and lie down on the ground.
"He told me, 'Dad, I'm not going to prison for the rest of my life," said Solana. "Then he said, 'I'll call you back, Dad.' And he hung up, and that's the last we heard from him."
Leroux was rushed by ambulance to Denver Health Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 11:36 p.m. Friday, the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner said Monday. (7NEWS initially reported he died Saturday, based on information from the man's family).
A ruling on Leroux's cause and manner of death are pending the completion of an autopsy, the medical examiner's office said.
The standoff began at 8:30 a.m. after witnesses saw the suspect running from police.
"He dropped his coat," said Dino Gallegos, who was exiting the store as Leroux ran in, "and the officer picked it up. The suspect ran around the corner and into 7-Eleven."
Police Chief Robert White said negotiators tried for nearly an hour to get Leroux to surrender. He refused and instead used one of the three hostages as a shield in an attempt to escape.
"The officers demanded that he let her go, at which time he attempted to pull her back into the store," White said. "So out of fear for her safety, one of the officers fired a shot striking the individual."
The hostage was not injured.
A Colorado Bureau of Investigation report shows Leroux has used several other names. He has a lengthy criminal record including convictions for trespass, motor vehicle theft, assault, burglary, child abuse, escape and harassment.
He'd already spent a decade in prison.
His parents said he was far from perfect, but he wasn't a violent person.
"He had only been out of prison for three months," said Romero Leroux. "He told us, 'I did my time, and my goal is to get my kids and to live a good life.'"
Police still have not confirmed whether the suspect had a gun, but his parents believe he was not armed.
"Why did they have to shoot him if he didn't have a gun?" asked Romero Leroux. "It's hard to accept. I'll never accept it."