DENVER – Police have arrested a man for investigation on murder and attempted murder charges after he allegedly shot two teenagers who had apparently gotten into his backyard marijuana plants early Sunday.
One of the teens, a 15-year old, was killed in the shooting, and the other, who is 14 years old, may be paralyzed, according to a probable cause statement for 48-year-old Keith Hammock’s arrest.
Police were called to a backyard between Race and High streets, near 28th Avenue, just after 2 a.m. Sunday.
They found the two teenagers unresponsive, according to the probable cause statement. Both were taken to Denver Health Medical, where one of them died.
The backyard in which the teens were found backed up to the backyard at 2830 High St., where officers found several “mature” marijuana plants.
Officers talked to Hammock, who lives at that address, and he told them his motion detector light had turned on around the time of the shooting, and that he had seen movement. He told officers he went to the yard and saw the two teens lying on the ground.
He then stopped talking to police and requested an attorney be present before he talked again, according to the probable cause statement.
Officers talked to Hammock’s roommate and former girlfriend, who told them she owned three guns, including a .22-caliber rifle.
The medical examiner notified police a .22-caliber bullet was recovered in the chest cavity of the teenager killed in the shooting.
After obtaining several search warrants to go through both the backyard and the home, police found two rifles, spent cartridge casings and a box of .22-caliber ammunition inside one of the rooms.
The screen of the window that faced the yard where the shooting occurred had also been tampered with, according to the probable cause statement.
In another room that faced the same direction, officers found two more rifles, as well as spent .22-caliber casings and more ammunition. Two spent casings were on the window seal of the window that faced the crime scene, and a .22-caliber rifle was sitting on a nearby chair, police wrote.
At some point afterward, officers arrested Hammock. The probable cause statement says the mother of the 14-year-old said the teen was shot twice and “may be paralyzed from the waist down.”
Terry O'Malley, a local defense attorney, used his trial experience in evaluating the case.
"You just don't have the option of deadly force when somebody is outside your home," O'Malley said. "I can't go shooting in the dark at somebody for being on my property. There's a real change when somebody comes inside your home."
The case remains under investigation and interviews with witnesses are ongoing. Neither of the victims have been identified.