Investigation released in shooting of Colorado State Patrol trooper Eugene Hofacker on I-70

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. - A trooper shot and critical injured by a driver on I-70 talked to the driver before the man suddenly became uncooperative and fired several rounds.

The driver was shot and killed by a second trooper on scene. The first trooper, who was shot multiple times,  survived.

The Garfield County Sheriff's Office investigated the May 8 shooting. Investigator Robert Glassmire released his report this week.

It says troopers Eugene Hofacker and Shane Gosnell were traveling together to attend training at the State Patrol Office in Glenwood Springs on May 8.

Around 9 a.m., on I-70 near mile marker 129, the troopers said they saw red car on the shoulder of the road.

"Trooper Hofacker pulled the marked Colorado State Patrol vehicle behind the red sedan and initiated a motorist assist.," the report said. "During the course of the motorist assist, Trooper Hofacker noted signs of intoxication coming from the driver, Thomas A. Ornelas, 40."

The report says Ornelas became uncooperative and argumentative. Then, Ornelas fired several rounds at Trooper Hofacker hitting him multiple times.

"Trooper Gosnell, who was positioned to the rear of the State Patrol vehicle, saw that his fellow Trooper’s life was in immediate danger," the report said. "Trooper Gosnell approached Ornelas and fired several shots. Trooper Gosnell observed that Ornelas fell to his knees and that Ornelas still had a gun. Trooper Gosnell continued to fire at Ornelas, firing a total of 14 rounds. Only after Ornelas fell completely to the ground and stopped being a threat to Trooper Hofacker, did Trooper Gosnell stop firing at the suspect."

The report said when a second trooper, Corporal Coby Smart, arrived, he initiated life saving medical treatment to Trooper Hofacker by applying pressure to Trooper Hofacker’s femoral artery, which had been hit by a bullet.

Trooper Hofacker was take to a hospital in Glenwood Springs where he underwent surgery.

Investigators said they later learned Ornelas was driving from Denver, home to Montrose. He told a friend he was having mechanical trouble and might need a ride.

Deputies said a search of Ornelas’ vehicle, a 2006 BMW, found 4.7 ounces of suspected cocaine.

An autopsy found Ornelas had a blood alcohol content of 0.186 and that there was evidence of cocaine in Ornelas’ blood, investigators said.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said it turned over all reports, photographs, and other evidence to the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office for its review.

Friday morning, the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced it had reviewed the evidence and the eyewitness accounts and determined that no charges were warranted against Trooper Gosnell for the death of Thomas Ornelas.

"The actions of Trooper Gosnell constituted self-defense and defense of others and the shooting of Thomas Ornelas was reasonable and justified," the D.A.'s office said.

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