Lakewood kidnapping, sexual assault suspect killed in standoff with officers on Western Slope

Suspect attacked woman at Target

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - A man accused of grabbing a woman and trying to kidnap her at the Colorado Mills Target store in Lakewood was apparently shot and killed during a standoff with police Wednesday.

Investigators told 7NEWS that the woman was placing items she had purchased at the store in her pickup truck when a man approached and started talking to her.

The woman said she was getting uncomfortable with the conversation when the man suddenly grabbed her and forced her into her pickup truck.

"He tried to sexually assault her," said Steve Davis, spokesman for the Lakewood Police Department. "But there were quite a few people who heard her scream and they came over."

Davis said one of the good Samaritans "pulled his car up and turned the high beam headlights on hers in an attempt to illuminate the whole situation."

That's when the woman was able to escape and run into the store.

Davis said the man then drove off in the woman's truck and Lakewood Police issued a statewide alert for the vehicle.

An investigator with the Mesa County Sheriff's Office spotted the pickup near a motel on Highway 6 and 50. The suspect began heading westbound on I-70.

According to Grand Junction police, multiple agencies pursued the suspect at highway speeds.

"There were multiple attempts to use stop sticks to get the vehicle stopped," according to a news release issued by GJPD spokeswoman Kate Porras. "But the suspect was able to avoid them."

A Colorado State Patrol trooper eventually forced the pickup off the side of the interstate, but the suspect remained inside.

Police say they tried to negotiate with him to come out.  SWAT team members from the police department and sheriff's office used tactical means to get him out of the vehicle.

"When he eventually came out, he pointed what was believed to be a gun at the officers and deputies," the news release stated. "The officers and deputies fired multiple shots at the suspect, who died at the scene.

Today, shoppers at the Target store reflected on what happened.

"I think that it's probably uncommon, but it's absolutely terrifying," said Wendy Pagels, an expectant mom who was shopping for a baby mattress. "It raises people's awareness about how we need to be safe, especially after dark and especially when we are alone."

Pagel's mom, Dena Williams, told 7NEWS that she worries about her daughter.

"She's very bright and very aware," Williams said. "But it could happen to her. The really good news in this story is that other people cared enough to do the right thing."

Davis called the response to the woman's screams commendable.

"She is very lucky that she got away from the guy at the point that she did," Davis said. "I think that had he been successful at taking her somewhere else, it could have been a very tragic ending to this whole story for her."

Westbound I-70 was shut down for a good portion of the day near the Utah border while the Critical Incident Response Team pieced together what happened.

Investigators from the Lakewood Police Department went to Grand Junction to help provide information about the events in Lakewood and to learn more about what happened in Mesa County.

Police say the coroner will release the suspect's name, manner and cause of death once they find and notify his family.