Denver police officer shot while pursuing pickup truck; 1 suspect dead, 4 arrested

Officer shot in shoulder is in serious condition

DENVER - A wild police chase through the streets of northwest Denver where shots fired from a fleeing pickup truck hit and wounded a Denver police officer ended when the truck crashed into a tree, leading to the eventual arrest of four suspects and the death of a fifth suspect.

Officers were chasing a pickup truck wanted in an earlier crime spree when police radioed that someone was firing at them from the red pickup.

"They were throwing stuff out of the back of the truck to divert the cop cars, or whatever they were trying to do," said Clay Schmitt, who said he walked outside after hearing multiple gunshots. "I assumed at that time that they were out of bullets."

"One of the tires was apparently shot out or blown out because it was smoking all the way down the street," said witness Steve Comeau.

Police closed in on the suspects after the chase ended with the pickup crashing into a tree at 39th Avenue and Osage Street at about 3:30 p.m.

One man was pulled from under the damaged pickup truck and placed on a stretcher, according to video provided by AIRTRACKER7.

Police said one male suspect was shot by police and killed. A second male suspect was shot and is in critical condition at a hospital. A third male suspect was arrested and treated after he was bitten by a police dog. A fourth suspect -- a woman -- was injured in the crash but was still taken into custody.

As dozens of police officers converged in the area searching for a fifth suspect,  a handful of nearby Denver Public schools was placed on lockdown. Neighbors in the area of 38th and Osage were warned to stay indoors as they hunted for a fifth suspect -- a 6-foot-2-inch Hispanic man in a white hooded sweatshirt.

Police said  they took that man into custody around 9 p.m. 

None of the suspects have been identified.

-- Suspects Wanted In 3 Separate Shootings --

Police radio traffic said that officers had been looking for at least one person in a pickup wanted in connection with three separate shootings across the metro Denver area earlier in the afternoon.

"Late morning, we did receive information from Adams County of a vehicle involved in somewhat of a mini crime spree. It’s the vehicle that we eventually stopped," said Denver Police Chief Robert White.

Thornton Police Department spokesman Matt Barnes confirmed the connection, saying the incident in his jurisdiction happened at 11:26 a.m. At that time, officers were sent to the 2400 block of East 101st Way after reports of an armed man threatening another man and a female with a handgun.

Barnes said the incident happened at the same address that a 4-month-old baby died earlier Wednesday morning.  He said there was nothing suspicious about the infant's death. Additionally, there was no known relationship between man who brandished the weapon and the victim.

Barnes said the suspect fled in a red pickup truck with at least two others, a male and a female. Police agencies were alerted to be on the lookout.

-- Sgt. Robert Motyka Shot In Shoulder --

When Denver police officers spotted the red pickup in question later on Wednesday afternoon, they tried to pull it over.

However, the pickup truck fled and someone started firing shots at pursuing patrol cars.

During the pursuit, one officer radioed, "He just shot me through the windshield," according to the recording provided by RadioReference.com.

A fellow officer transported the wounded officer in a patrol car to the hospital. The injured officer, who was shot in the shoulder, has been upgraded from critical to serious condition and was believed to have non-life-threatening wounds, police said.

"The officer has been brought to Denver Health Medical Center; they are currently treating him. We don't anticipate that this is life-threatening injury," said Denver Police spokesman Lt. Matt Murray.

The wounded officer was not identified by police, but Police Chief Robert White said he was in good spirits. A full recovery is expected.

Sources have told 7NEWS the wounded officer is Sgt. Robert Motyka.

-- Schools Placed In Lockdown, Neighborhood Blocked --

Just after 9 p.m. police lifted the roadblocks and everyone living in the area were allowed to return to their homes.

"It’s a little unsettling, but obviously they have a fugitive they’re looking for, but judging from the police presence they will get them," said Ryan Estes, a parent of children in one of the schools.

The lockdowns were lifted about 5 p.m. for some schools, including Trevista at Horace Mann and Sandoval, said Kristy Armstrong, spokeswoman for Denver Public Schools. Parents of students at Horace Mann were told to bring identification to retrieve their children at those schools. The lockdown at Bryant Webster was released around 6 p.m.

Lockdowns were also lifted at schools where nearly all children had already left for the day -- Justice High School, Columbian Elementary and Escuela Tlatelolco, Smedley and Remington.

At least 15 police cars and dozens of officers were on the scene at 39th and Osage. After sunset, AIRTRACKER7 from over the area showed twinkling police lights over an area of several blocks.


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