ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. – The Adams County sheriff’s deputy who was with Heath Gumm the night Gumm was killed said he believed the man accused in the shooting was waiting for the deputies so he could shoot them, according to an affidavit in the case unsealed Wednesday.
Dreion Martise Dearing, 22, was formally charged Wednesday with six felonies, including four counts of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary, and a misdemeanor in connection to Gumm’s death.
The judge also unsealed Dearing’s arrest affidavit, which provides more details about what led to the shooting, and how authorities determined that Dearing was the only suspect in Gumm’s shooting death.
The affidavit says that Gumm and two other deputies went to an apartment near 88th and Dawson in Thornton on a report that several people dressed in all black were assaulting a woman.
Gumm and another deputy spotted a man matching the description of the suspects. He was wearing all black with blue boxers sticking out of his pants, according to the affidavit.
The two deputies tried to contact the man, but he ran. Gumm said he was in a foot pursuit, and the other deputy joined in.
The affidavit says that Gumm and the other deputy chased the man through two backyards in the 8600 block of Edison Street. While they were jumping the fence, Gumm said the suspect was “reaching for something in his waist band,” according to the affidavit.
Gumm shouted for the suspect to stop running, saying “don’t be stupid,” according to the affidavit. Gumm moved toward a shed in the backyard of one of the homes, while the other deputy moved alongside the home.
The affidavit says that deputy saw muzzle flashes from the north side of the property, and saw Gumm return fire. The other deputy said he fired “two or three rounds” in the direction of the muzzle flashes before his gun jammed. By the time he’d cleared his weapon, the suspect had run off, and Gumm was not responding to calls.
The affidavit says the deputy went over to the shed, where Gumm had been, and found him lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to his torso.
The deputy said he didn’t get a look at the suspect’s face, but that he matched the same description of the man with the blue boxers.
“[The deputy] said he was not sure how many rounds the suspect fired at Deputy Gumm, but felt the suspect was lying in wait for them,” the affidavit says.
Gumm was taken to Denver Health, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 8 p.m.
A neighbor who had witnessed the pursuit and shooting also said she couldn’t see the suspect’s face, but described his clothing the same. She also told deputies that she’d seen the suspect run across the street to a home where a camper was parked in the driveway.
Deputies also interviewed the people who originally called 911 to report the assault. They said a group of people living at one of the nearby apartments had been beaten up by a handful of people dressed in all black. One of the alleged assailants also matched the description relayed by the deputies and woman who witnessed the shooting, the affidavit says.
Deputies were also told that the four people who had been beaten up were all transported to a Thornton hospital to be treated for their injuries.
The search for the suspect continued past 8 p.m., according to the affidavit. Around 8:30, several deputies, detectives and a K-9 tracked footprints from the scene of a shooting to another nearby house—specifically a tree house built in the home’s backyard.
When the deputies tried to get inside the tree house, someone was blocking it. But the deputies were able to flip the tree house over, and found Dearing inside. The affidavit says he was wearing all black with blue boxers poking out of his pants.
The four people who were allegedly assaulted were interviewed after Dearing’s arrest, and said that one of the people had been involved in a “disturbance” earlier in the day. But that evening, three unknown people came back to the apartment, and allegedly beat up the four people who had been inside.
The suspects also stole two phones during the alleged assault, according to the affidavit.
One of the people who had allegedly been assaulted was shown photo lineups that included Dearing’s mug shot, and that person positively identified Dearing as the assailant, the affidavit says.
Later, detectives interviewed Dearing at the jail after he agreed to speak with investigators.
He said he’d been drinking and smoking blunts earlier in the day while driving around with a man he knew only as Devin. He told detectives he’d fallen asleep for some time, and that he remembered nothing between being in the car and being drug out of the tree house by police, the affidavit says.
He denied knowing where his phone was, or what his phone number was, and said he didn’t know where his friend went “or how he ended up in the back yard of that residence,” the affidavit says.
He also denied being at “any” apartment complex or assaulting anyone that day. But when detectives asked for a DNA swab because a deputy had been shot, Dearing declined to give officers a swab, the affidavit says.
But the detectives analyzed his clothing and shoes, and matched shoeprints found in the snow both at the site of the shooting and the site of Dearing’s arrest. The detective who wrote the affidavit said the impressions “appear” to match Dearing’s shoes.
Detectives also recovered .45-caliber shell casings, and found a .45-caliber pistol hidden under the camper where Dearing was believed to have run after the shooting.
Detectives also found a beanie lying on the ground near the scene of the shooting, and found a pay stub with Dearing’s name on it inside the tree house where he was arrested.
Also, according to the affidavit, detectives found a key FOB for a vehicle inside the apartment in which the people were assaulted. Close by, officers found a 2005 Kia Sportage that was matched to the key FOB. Detectives found the vehicle was registered to Dearing’s girlfriend, the affidavit says.
Detectives also obtained security footage from a home surveillance camera near the scene of the assault. Detectives wrote in the affidavit that a man seen in the footage “was wearing what appears to be the same shoes as Mr. Dearing was wearing at the time of his arrest.”
Dearing will be held without bond until his preliminary hearing, which was tentatively set for April 18. There will be a motions hearing in the case on Feb. 21.
Court records show Dearing was found guilty of a felony robbery charge in July 2014 in Denver, hence the weapons possession charge. He was originally also charged with second-degree assault in that case after his October 2013 arrest, but the charge was dropped.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Dearing would face either life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
District Attorney Dave Young said Wednesday it was too soon to know if he’d seek the death penalty. He still has several months to make the decision.
“That’s a very important decision to make, and I certainly want to have everything I need to make that decision,” Young said.
The funeral services for Gumm are scheduled for Friday in Lafayette. There will be a police funeral procession beforehand. The service will take place at 11 a.m. at the Flatirons Community Church, located at 355 W. South Boulder Road in Lafayette.
The Adams County Sheriff's Foundation is accepting donations for Gumm's family. The Adams County Sheriff's Office said that information about Gumm's funeral arrangements would be posted on its website at a later date. The family has asked that donations be made to the Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation in lieu of flowers.