Park County shooting: Sheriff Fred Wegener says it should not have happened

PARK COUNTY, Colo. - The Park County Sheriff says the shooting of three deputies, one who died, during an eviction should not have happened.

Sheriff Fred Wegener admitted it was a high risk eviction, based upon prior law enforcement contacts.

"Because of previous law enforcement contact with Martin Wirth, there was a higher level of concern for the deputies effecting the eviction," Wegener said. "This was an eviction. This is something we do on a routine basis."

Wegener said deputies were at Wirth's home in 2014 for the same type of eviction and had a peaceful resolve.

"We did not force a violent confrontation yesterday, Mr. Wirth did," Wegener said.

Three deputies were shot during the eviction Wednesday morning near Bailey. Cpl Nate Carrigan was killed, Master Patrol Deputy Kolby Martin was shot multiple times and Capt. Mark Hancock was grazed on the ear. Martin is in serious condition, but is up and around, Wegener said. Hancock was treated and released.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation said the deputies returned fire and killed the suspect, Martin Wirth.

Wirth had previously run for office and had been fighting eviction for years. He recently posted on Facebook that the cops wanted him dead.

Wegener said their hand was forced.

"We're simply there to do our job, which is to have the folks move out of the residence," Wegener said. "It wasn't a tactical operation, they were simply there to effect an eviction. Peaceably. That's what it should have been."

"If they want to argue, if they want to jump up and down, that's fine. The court system is where they need to go to take care of that process," Wegener said. "Don't attack the messenger."

Wegener said there were eight deputies at the eviction because they thought the suspect might jump out a window or run away.

"When we talk about a high risk eviction, it's usually I need more help moving stuff out of the building," Wegener said. "This is one of those things that should not have happened."

Nate Carrigan

Wegener said, "Nate was one of my kids."

He said Carrigan worked tirelessly and "meant a lot to our community."

"Nate's death will be hard on our agency and the loss will be felt for a long time," Wegener said.

Carrigan graduated from Platte Canyon High School in 1999 and went back to the school to work as a baseball and football coach.

"Loved by the staff and community there," Wegener said.

Carrigan's mom also works at the school.

Carrigan started with the Park County Sheriff's Office in 2003.

"Nate was a caring individual who went above and beyond," Wegener said.

The Sheriff read a statement from Carrigan's family that said he was a "beloved son, brother, coach and a role model."

Carrigan had a fiance and four step-children.

Instead of flowers, the family is asking for donations to a scholarship fund at the Bank of the West set up in Nate Carrigan's name.


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