COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs Police hosted a briefing Tuesday to provide an update on the mass shooting that occurred over the weekend on Preakness Way and to officially release the names of the six victims.
During the briefing, police said the incident was fueled by domestic violence. They said the suspect, identified as 28-year-old Teodoro Macias, was one of the victim's boyfriend and was not invited to the birthday party the family was hosting. Police deciphered that he was upset about this based on communications they found on his phone.
“At the core of this horrendous act is domestic violence,” Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said.
Two families, connected through marriage, had gathered to celebrate a birthday. When the suspect arrived, there were 10 family members present. Seven adults and three children. One adult was able to escape the shooting. The children were physically unharmed but witnessed what happened. Based on the investigation, the children were in the main room of the home when the shooting started but retreated to a bedroom. All three children present lost parents in the shooting.
Police said the suspect had a history of controlling and jealous behavior but there were no reported or documented incidences of domestic violence and no protection orders were in place. The suspect also had no criminal history.
When asked about the firearm used in the shooting, police said it was bought from a local dealer in 2014 but was not purchased by the suspect. They are still investigating how the suspect came to be in possession of the weapon.
CSPD reports this was the deadliest shooting in Colorado Springs' history.
You can watch the briefing below:
Tuesday evening, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ordered flags lowered to half staff on all public buildings from now until sunset Tuesday, May 18, 2021, to honor the victims of this tragedy.
CNN spoke with Freddy Marquez, a relative who was at the party Saturday night but left about two hours before the shooter arrived shortly after midnight. He says the birthday party was for his wife, Nubia, and her older brother, Melvin. The couple left about 2 hours before the shooting.
Marquez identified the victims as:
- Melvin Perez, brother of Nubia and Jose
- Mayra Perez, wife of Melvin
- Joana Cruz, mother of Nubia, Melvin, and Jose
- Jose Gutierrez, brother of Nubia and Melvin
- Sandra Ibarra Perez, sister of Mayra Perez
- Jose Ibarra, brother of Mayra Perez
According to Marquez's comments to CNN, some people were already asleep when the shooting happened and only one adult survived at the party -- the husband of Joana Cruz. He was in the bathroom when the suspect arrived.
"He said he heard all the gunfire and when he opened up the (bathroom) door, everything had happened already, almost like in a blink of an eye," Marquez said.
"He said the guy was on a mission basically, like he went in there knowing what he was going to do," Marquez continued. "He did it, and that was that. There was no commotion. There was no fighting. He went in there and did what he was there to do," Marquez said.
According to police, a call came in just after midnight for the shooting on Preakness Way inside the Canterbury Manufactured Home Community. As emergency personnel were dispatched to the address, fire units were advised "shots still being fired" and to keep their distance.
About 10 minutes later police reported finding 4 victims in the trailer and called for medics to come forward. More traffic indicates officers finding more victims, reporting their conditions, and calling for more medical units.
CSPD spokesperson Lt. James Sokolik says officers eventually found six adults dead and one with critical injuries, who later died at the hospital. The gunman, who has not been identified by police, was the boyfriend of a female victim at the party. He reportedly arrived at the scene and started killing the adults. There were children attending the party who were not wounded in the shooting.
On Monday, Jennifer Romero, who is part of a support group for families of murder victims called "Mothers of Murdered Youth" or "MOMY," brought memorial flowers to the home. She said she wanted the family to see that someone cares and also wanted to let anyone who lost a loved one in this tragedy know that they can reach out to her for help.
"I have to be there, I have to help them, I have to do something," Romero said. "I don't live far from here, so I feel like it happened in my neighborhood."
The tragic event has neighbors speechless as they say they never expected a mass shooting to take place right outside of their front door. Neighbor Yeniefer Reyes told News5 she could hear the shooting and children calling out for their parents.
"I have been thinking that all morning that we live somewhere and we have no idea who our neighbors are and that's incredible," said Reyes. She's lived in the neighborhood for three years. Reyes says because of the shooting, she will be moving out of the neighborhood as soon as possible.
Another neighbor spoke to News5 about at least one bullet coming into his mobile home while multiple family members were inside.
A small memorial to the victims, in the form of candles and flowers, was put in front of the home where the shooting occurred.
Anyone who has information about this crime, or is a witness who has not spoken with detectives, is asked to call the Colorado Springs Police Department at (719) 444-7000. You can remain anonymous by calling the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at (719) 634-STOP (7867).
Local leaders react
Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski - “Words fall short to describe the tragedy that took place this morning. As the chief of police, as a husband, as a father, as a grandfather, as a member of this community, my heart breaks for the families who have lost someone they love and for the children who have lost their parents. From the officers who responded to the shooting to the investigators still on scene, we are all left incredibly shaken. This is something you hope never happens in your own community, in the place that you call home. When these types of unspeakable acts happen, there is nothing that can be done to fully rebuild what was lost or replace those who are no longer with us. My vow to this community and to the families who have lost someone today, is that this department will do everything we can to find you the answers you deserve and be here for you with an unwavering support.”
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers - “Today we find ourselves mourning the loss of lives and praying solemnly for those who were injured and those who lost family members in a senseless act of violence on Sunday morning. We think too of the emergency personnel who responded to a horrific scene and we keep them in our prayers today. We ask the public’s patience with the investigation and we seek the sensitivity of our media partners as CSPD completes a thorough investigation to provide answers to the families and friends impacted by this tragedy.”
El Paso County Commissioners - “El Paso County is devastated by the senseless act of violence carried out last night resulting in the death of innocent citizens at a birthday party. We offer our sincere prayers to the families of the victims, the first responders, and those in law enforcement who must investigate this tragic crime. We pray for peace and healing within our community. We stand ready to offer any support to our brothers and sisters in the City of Colorado Springs.”
Colorado Governor Jared Polis - “The tragic shooting in Colorado Springs is devastating, especially as many of us are spending the day celebrating the women in our lives who have made us the people we are today. Multiple lives were taken today by this terrible act of violence. Families torn apart, and at a birthday party no less. My deepest condolences and prayers are with the victims, their families, and everyone else impacted by this tragedy.”
The most recent data available from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office shows a sharp increase in domestic violence calls from 2019 to 2020, with 2,602 cases last year.
Pueblo Police report a similar concern with the number of cases in 2020 at the highest levels since 2016.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites studies that show 36.8% of women and 30.5% of men in Colorado experience some form of domestic violence in their lives. Additionally, 12.3% of the homicides in Colorado for 2020 were committed by intimate partners and another 9.9% by family members, according to Colorado Crime Statistics compiled by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
There are statewide resources available for victims of domestic violence:
TESSAcs.org / 719-633-3819 - TESSA works to help all victims of domestic violence, sex assault, stalking, and human trafficking. They provide shelter with a 34-bed safe house in El Paso and Teller counties, access to legal support and advocates, and have a 24/7 Safeline.
thehotline.org/ - National Domestic Violence Hotline
Recent proposed legislation on 'gun violence prevention'
In late April, Colorado Democrats unveiled three more bills aimed at preventing gun violence, something they have pledged to do in the wake of the Boulder King Soopers shooting and with two other gun violence prevention bills already signed by the governor.
The bills piggyback off of two recently signed pieces of legislation on the safe storage and reporting of lost or stolen firearms. A third bill which would force some domestic abusers to give up their firearms is still making its way through the legislative process.
The three new bills lawmakers will introduce would establish an Office of Gun Violence Prevention, strengthen background checks, and allow local communities to have local control over their gun laws.
The sponsors called the three measures “common sense, life-saving policies” they say address what they called a public health crisis and epidemic of gun violence in Colorado.
Read more on the Colorado General Assembly website:
SB21-256 Local Regulation of Firearms
HB-21-1298 Expand Firearm Transfer Background Check Requirements
HB21-1299 - Office Of Gun Violence Prevention