Elbert County rancher shot and killed after confronting intruder at friend's home near Agate

Victim was talking on cell phone when he was shot

AGATE, Colo. - An Agate area rancher was shot and killed Saturday after confronting an intruder at his friend’s house.

Other friends say Ed Butler had gone to check up on some cattle and noticed that a door had been left open at the house.

Investigators say Butler contacted the friend via cell phone to ask if he’d given anyone permission to be on the property.

The friend apparently said, “No.”

“He said, ‘Well, I’m going to go in,’ and when he stepped by the door, he saw somebody and apparently said, ‘What are you doing here?’ And that’s when the phone went dead,” said Rose Padilla, a friend of the family.

The man at the other end of the phone call then called a neighbor and asked him to check on Butler’s welfare.  That neighbor found the rancher deceased from an apparent gunshot wound.

“I just lost a good friend, and I don’t want to talk about it,” the man said.

“We are in shock,” said Donna Curtis, another family friend. “We have been since we heard about it.  We just can’t get it out of our mind.”

The Elbert County Sheriff’s Office released three photos of what they call a “person of interest.”

One shows a man with a thin mustache, wearing an earring in his left ear, a band type ring on his left ring finger and a large watch or bracelet on his left wrist.

Another picture shows a shirtless man with a cowboy hat and a third shows a man with a mustache wearing a cowboy hat.

He was last seen in the Agate area at 4 p.m. Saturday.

When asked if she recognized the man in the photos, Curtis said, “No.  No one I’ve talked to does.”

“We’ve all been communicating on Facebook,” Padilla said. “No one recognizes him.”

Curtis said Butler was a kind man.

“He was so friendly to everyone,” she said. “He’d help anyone.  He was a very important person in our Church.  We’re going to miss him sorely.”

“We talked to him on Friday,” Padilla said. “He was over there by the church and we were talking to him and laughing and carrying on about the Broncos and things like that.  That’s the last time we saw him and talked to him.”

“We’re all here feeling pain for his wife,” Padilla added.

“Hopefully, they’ll catch the guy who did this,” Curtis said.

If you recognize the man in the pictures, or if you have any information about what happened, you are asked to contact Investigator Michelle Mattive at 303-674-6745 or Investigator Joel Heap at 303-947-7033.

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