Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz said a patrol officer likely "saved a lot of lives" Saturday night when he shot and killed a knife-wielding man who was attacking his girlfriend and who had already stabbed her mother.
Police said both the suspected attacker and the girlfriend -- identified by family members as a 28-year-old Mireya Ramirez, a mother of four -- died later at the hospital. Authorities are trying to confirm the suspect's identity.
The girlfriend's mother, June Simpson, survived several stab wounds she suffered while trying to stop the man from attacking her daughter.
-- 'Chilling' 911 call --
"In the tape is the mother calling in, saying that she and her daughter are being attacked," Metz said.
Simpson told Denver7 she heard her daughter screaming in their home at 745 N. Kenton.
"I had to knock the door down and go in," Simpson said. "And when I went in there, she was on the ground bleeding and he [the boyfriend] was on top of her, stabbing her. So I grabbed the knife from his hand and tackled him down and punched him, and was able to get her free from him."
Simpson said her daughter ran for safety outside and down the street, but the boyfriend followed, continuing to attack her.
--Neighbors tried to stop attack--
Neighbors tried to intervene, but were unable to help.
"I went running down the street, and there was a girl laying in the gutter and a guy was standing over her," said neighbor, Kathleen Barber. "I couldn't really see anything, but she was kicking him, like in a self-defense thing, saying that she wanted her mom."
Three minutes after the 911 call, the first officer arrived at the scene and found the man with a knife standing over his girlfriend, who was lying on the ground, police said.
"At that point our officer tells the suspect to drop the knife but he refuses to do so, and the officer discharges his weapon," Aurora Police Cmdr. Rob McGregor said
Chief Metz said: "Neighbors said that they could hear the officer yelling several times, 'Drop that knife! Drop that knife! Police!' And then they heard two gunshots."
"I think what's really important to note here is that my officer, the initial one who encountered the attack that was occurring, probably saved a lot of lives that night," Metz said.
"No. 1, we believe the mother was probably coming down there to assist her daughter, and had he [the officer] not gotten there and taken the action that he did, it's likely that the suspect could have turned back on the mother, who had already been stabbed by the suspect," the police chief said.
"We had neighbors who have said that they were ready to go out and confront the suspect because police weren't there yet and, again, [the officer] may have helped…protect their safety from that suspect," Metz added.
-- Officer gave stabbing victim her 'only fighting chance' to survive --
"A tragic as that situation turned out…this young woman lost her life, that officer pretty much gave her the only fighting chance at the moment to survive. And so, it was because of his actions they were able to at least keep her alive to get her to hospital for medical treatment. And sadly she didn't make it," Chief Metz said.
The officer who killed the suspect has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.
Metz did not release the officer's name, but said he's a veteran of more than 12 years who has experienced one prior officer-involved shooting.
A family member said Mireya had only been dating the man for a few months and they didn't know much about him. They said he had been violent with her before.
-- Family: Boyfriend was abusive --
"He tried to yell at her in front of me, and I don't like that," said Ramiro Escamilla, Mireya's stepfather. "I told her I didn't like him. He just seemed like a mean person, and I just told her, 'Find someone else.'"
The family hopes what happened might be a wakeup call for anyone enduring an abusive relationship.
"She didn't deserve this. No one does. And the next thing you know it's too late," Escamilla said.
Ramirez's family is raising money for her funeral expenses and children. You can donate here.
--Police Chief urges domestic violence victims to call 911--
Chief Metz urged victims of domestic violence to seek help by calling 911.
"In my 31 years of law enforcement experience I've unfortunately seen a lot of domestic violence-related homicides. And in most of those situations it's very rare that there hasn't been prior violence between the victim and the abuser," he said.
"As we go into the holiday season…that's often times when we can see an up-tick in domestic violence. It's really important to keep in mind that domestic violence is unfortunately alive and well within our community. It crosses all economic, racial, ethnic lines."
"It's a silent crime where people often don't report it because they know that there are mandatory arrests, they know that people's lives will be impacted and there's the fear of retaliation if they call the police," Metz said. "But when it really comes down to it, we can't help the victims in our community and we can't save the lives in our community, if we don't know what's going on."
"My message to victims of domestic violence in our community is do not be afraid to call 911," the chief stressed. "We have a lot of resources in place to make sure that you remain safe. And for the neighbors or family members who know that somebody is being abuse, it's that old cliché, 'See something, say something.' Call us, let us know that domestic violence is happening within your home or your neighbor's home. Because, again, too often we see tragedies like we saw Saturday night occur."