FORT LUPTON, Colo. – A 19-year-old man who told authorities that he caught a Fort Lupton police sergeant “off guard” when he admitted to shooting at least three rounds from a handgun at the arriving officer this week has been charged in the case, officials announced on Friday.
Matthew Cotter faces two counts of attempt to commit murder in the first-degree, one count of assault in the first-degree, two counts of assault in the first degree on a peace officer, and one count of criminal attempt to commit assault in the first degree, the 19th Judicial District Attorney's Offices said in a news release.
Cotter is accused of shooting Fort Lupton Police Sgt. Christopher Pelton in the face as Pelton and other officers were responding to Cotter’s ex-girlfriend’s home in the 200 block of Ponderosa Place around 10:45 p.m. Monday.
Pelton was critically wounded and is recovering from his injuries. Cotter was also injured in the incident and was still undergoing treatment on Friday.
The shooting left Pelton with significant injuries, including lost teeth and a shattered jaw, according to an affidavit in the case. Pelton has undergone two surgeries and remains in critical condition at Swedish Medical Center in Denver, authorities said. Cotter is listed as stable at the Medical Center of the Rockies.
On Monday evening around 8:42 p.m., police were called to Cotter’s ex-girlfriend’s home by the ex-girlfriend’s mother, who told police that Cotter had called her daughter threatening to come over to their family’s home and commit suicide, according to the affidavit. Police arrived and failed to locate Cotter, the documents state. However, about two hours later, the ex-girlfriend’s father called police to say that Cotter was parked outside their home with his car's lights off and was texting his daughter. The text read, “It’s too late,” the documents state.
While Cotter was inside his car outside the Ponderosa Place home, he grabbed his handgun from his vehicle’s glovebox after hearing approaching sirens, according to the affidavit. Cotter said he then got out of the car and ran behind a neighbor’s fence, watching the armed officers arrive through the fence’s slats. At some point, Cotter said he shot at least three rounds from his handgun at Pelton, saying, “I shot, he dropped; they shot, I dropped,” according to the documents. Cotter told investigators that he caught Pelton “off guard.”
After Cotter allegedly fired at Pelton, he took off running but was shot by officers who were returning fire toward him. He was taken into custody and airlifted to the hospital. Pelton was airlifted to a Greeley hospital at first but was later brought to Swedish Medical Center.
The couple had apparently split in August, and Cotter had been expressing suicidal thoughts at various times, according to the documents. A month earlier, Cotter allegedly confronted his ex-girlfriend at her work and gave her a bullet, telling her he was going to kill himself with the round, according to the court documents.
Fundraisers for injured officer
The community has rallied around Sgt. Pelton and his family and have come up with several ways you can help.
The police community also announced you can go to any Chase bank and make a donation to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 48, but make sure you mention the money is going toward Sgt. Christopher Pelton.
Lastly, the Northern Colorado Police & Fire Families organization is making t-shirts honoring Pelton. You can order a shirt by clicking here.