Denver Police: Suspect shot while using hostage as shield in escape attempt

Chief: Suspect ignored commands to let hostage go

DENVER - Denver police shot a man who they say took three hostages at a 7-Eleven and refused commands to let one of them go.

Police Chief Robert White told 7NEWS the man walked into the 7-Eleven at West Colfax and Perry around 8:30 Monday morning.

Customer Dino Gallegos was walking out just as the suspect went in.

“He had a hood on,” Gallegos said. “He didn’t say anything. He just walked in like a regular customer.”

Another neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified, told 7NEWS she saw the suspect running from police on Quitman street a minute or two earlier.

“He dropped his coat,” she said, “and the officer picked it up. The suspect ran around the corner and into 7-Eleven.”

Gallegos, and his wife Bernice, saw officers run into the store.

“And then all of a sudden they were backing out,” Bernice said. “They were pleading with him to let the hostages go.”

Chief White said negotiators tried for nearly an hour to get him to surrender.  He refused and instead used one of the 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.”

Anthony Flores witnessed the shooting from across the street.

"We heard a loud bang,” Flores said, “and saw the guy’s face just go back, like if there was a car accident and whiplash. After that, he didn't move at all."

Flores, who was holding his young son in his arms, said the incident left him shaken.

“We’re kind of scared and kind of shaking,” he said. “I’ve got chest pains just from seeing the actual shot go off. The guy just flew back and the girl took off running. It was kind of scary.”

The suspect was taken to a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was listed in critical condition at last report. The hostage was not injured.

She was quickly escorted to safety behind the SWAT Team’s armored vehicle.

The Gallegos told 7NEWS they’re concerned about the hostage who was used as a shield and about Betty, the store manager.

“Betty’s a good friend of ours,” they said. “I just hope she’s O.K. I know it’s going to take her a while to get over this.  But you know our prayers are with her.”

Chief White said, “I think it’s always unfortunate when anyone is injured, but thank goodness none of our citizens, none of the victims were injured, nor were the officers.”

White said one of those hostages was able to escape the store prior to the suspect being shot.

When asked if the incident started as a robbery attempt or if he targeted the hostage specifically, White said, “I don’t believe he targeted her specifically. At this time, we’re unsure what his intent was once he was inside the store.”

Several streets were closed, people were evacuated and several schools were placed on lockdown during the situation.