Neighbors plead to Boulder police chief: Fire Officer Sam Carter for shooting 'Big Boy' elk

Mapleton residents demand 'Justice For Big Boy'

BOULDER, Colo. - Dubbed "Elk-gate," the investigation of two Boulder police officers involved in the shooting and disposal of a popular neighborhood elk continued to mushroom Monday night.

The Daily Camera reported that one of two officers suspended in the incident called in sick on the night of the shooting and operates a website advertising "quality taxidermy at an affordable price."

Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner on Monday confirmed that Officer Brent Curnow, a 14-year veteran of the department, had been scheduled to work New Year's Day, but called in sick that night, the newspaper reported.

Curnow and Officer Sam Carter, who did work on Jan. 1, are the subject of both a criminal investigation by Colorado Division of Wildlife and an internal Boulder police personnel investigation.

Carter is accused of killing the elk by shooting it at point-blank range with a shotgun at Ninth Street and Mapleton Avenue.

The Daily Camera story indicated that Curnow is the off-duty officer who took the carcass home to process it for meat.

An Internet domain registration record shows a website called BuffaloPeaksTaxidermy.com is registered to Curnow's address in Aurora and lists "Brent Curnow" as the site's contact, the newspaper reported.

A person answering the phone number listed on the Buffalo Peaks Taxidermy website Monday night told the Daily Camera that he had been instructed by Curnow to inform members of the media that the officer could not comment on the elk shooting case due to the ongoing police investigation.

The elk killing has sparked outrage among Mapleton Hill residents, who have several pet names for the bull, including  "Big Boy," "Rufus" and "Humphrey."

Dozens of angry neighbors attended a meeting with the police chief on Monday afternoon and demanded that Carter be fired.

One by one residents stood up to plead with Chief Beckner to fire the officer, according to 7NEWS Reporter Russell Haythorn, who attended the meeting.

"I'm angry, but I have to remain objective," Beckner told the audience. "If it's determined the officer should be fired, you have my word he will be fired."

The officer, Sam Carter, is on paid administrative leave along with a second officer who picked up the dead elk to have its meat processed.

"It appears that the officer did not inform Boulder Police Dispatch about his intentions to dispatch the animal, nor did he notify an on-duty supervisor or file a report on the incident," Boulder Police said in a news release sent to 7NEWS last Thursday, two days after Jan. 1 shooting.

"So the officer's story is that we had several calls of an aggressive elk in that neighborhood," Beckner told residents.

Residents passionately disputed this characterization.

"He's not aggressive," said resident Peg Romano. "There's never been one problem at all."

"It's kind of an astonishing thing when you see him in your front yard. He peacefully walks down the alley every winter," Romano added.

Resident Michael Busenhart called the officer's actions "very disgraceful."

"I think he should lose his job," Busenhart  said. "I think he ethically and morally betrayed the people of the community. This is a senseless crime."

Carter said he was on routine patrol when he saw an elk that appeared to be injured.

"In the officer’s judgment, the animal needed to be humanely put down," Boulder police said.

Beckner said Officer Carter shot and killed the elk with one shot from a shotgun at point-blank range.

The family who lives at the home where the elk was shot told 7NEWS the elk came to their yard often because he liked to snack on their crabapple tree.

"He was a little aggressive at times, I think he just really wanted to eat," said Lara Koenig. "He was a little bit lost sometimes. He used to wander down the back of all our back yards."

Some 180 people attended a candlelight vigil for the elk on Sunday night.

"I really liked the elk in our neighborhood, and I'm going to miss him a lot, and I just wanted to come here," said Tyg Gugenheim.

"Tonight we're here to honor the elk and it was a magnificent creature, who blessed our neighborhoods," said Marcus O'Bryon.

The community outpouring of grief over the elk's death has made national news.

"We're not crazy people in Boulder, but we have this amazing animal that happens to live in the meadow," Romano said.

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