GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. - Authorities with the Garfield County Sheriff's Office have identified the suspect killed in a shootout beside Interstate 70 that seriously injured a trooper as Thomas Ornelas, confirming information first reported by 7NEWS after the Thursday shooting.
Ornelas, 40, allegedly opened fire as Trooper Eugene Hofacker approached his car stopped on the side of Interstate 70 near Dotsero at 9:10 a.m. Hofacker was seriously wounded and a second officer returned fire, killing Ornelas.
I-70 was closed in both directions for hours after the exchange of gunfire. Hofacker was rushed to a hospital, where on Wednesday he was reported to be doing well and in high spirits.
Ornelas has a long criminal history that dates back to a murder he committed as a teenager. His history also includes several parole violations, repeated violations of a protection order, resisting arrest and attempted murder.
Ornelas has six other aliases listed on his record with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. One of the aliases includes the first name, "Sick."
He was awaiting trial on attempted murder and other charges in Mesa County in September.
Ornelas' criminal record begins in 1991, when he was still 17. The CBI record shows the teenager was convicted as an adult of homicide and sent to the Territorial Correctional Facility in Canon City.
He next appears on the CBI report in 2003, with entries related to parole violation. Two years later, in 2005, he has a recorded probation violation.
Ornelas was found guilty of misdemeanor assault in 2007 and sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation. A drug charge was dismissed by prosecutors in that case.
During 2008, he was twice arrested for violation of a protection order in Montrose County. In one of the incidents he was also alleged to be publicly intoxicated.
Two other alleged violations of protection orders in Montrose County appear on the record during 2009. He was convicted of one. In the other, that charge and resisting arrest were dismissed but he was convicted of obstructing a police officer.
In 2013, the CBI arrested Ornelas on behalf of the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.
Charges filed in that pending case include criminal mischief, attempted-second degree murder, assault with extreme indifference, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a weapon by previous offenders and illegal discharge of a firearm.
In February 2014, a judge briefly vacated Ornelas' bond after he failed to make a court appearance in the attempted murder case.
Ornelas was free on $75,000 bond and awaiting trial when Thursday's shootout occurred.