The 19-year-old suspect who reportedly confessed to gunning down and killing a Denver police officer went to work a full shift at a Cherry Creek restaurant just hours after the fatal shooting, 7NEWS reported. The suspect remains at large.
Denver police have named Raul Garcia-Gomez as a suspect in the ambush shooting of two police officers.
Police say Raul Garcia-Gomez shot Detective "Donnie" Young several times in the back early Sunday as Young and another off-duty officer were providing security at a private baptismal party. Young died a short time later at the hospital. The other officer, Jack Bishop, was shot once and saved by his bulletproof vest. He was treated and released from the hospital Sunday.Garcia-Gomez's girlfriend told the Rocky Mountain News that he confessed to shooting both officers and had asked for her forgiveness.Sandra Rivas, 18, said that they were both at her cousin's baptismal party at Salon Ocampo Saturday evening when she noticed that he was no longer at the banquet hall. She assumed that he went home. But after the crowd dispersed amid gunfire, she and other family members came home to the house they shared on South Vrain Street and he was not there, she said.When Garcia-Gomez arrived home at 2 a.m. he seemed nervous and scared, she told the News. When she asked him what was wrong, he said that he had left the party and when he tried to return, the officers wouldn't let him in. He said an officer grabbed him by the neck and arm, and that angered him, Rivas said.Rivas told the paper that said she urged him to turn himself in but he fled while she was sleeping. Detectives say he packed his bags and cleared the house of all the pictures he was in, except one -- the one being used in the CrimeStoppers flier.
Rivas said that she couldn't imagine her boyfriend killing an officer. He adored their 3-week-old girl, Jameled Stacey, and was mild-mannered and hardworking. She said he came home every night after work, hung out with friends from the Cherry Cricket and didn't socialize with any bad people.In fact, after the shooting, on Sunday -- Garcia-Gomez worked a full-shift. He clocked in at 8 a.m. and clocked out at 4 p.m., according to managers at the Cherry Cricket Restaurant.Rivas told reporters that she doesn't know where he got the gun he allegedly used in the shooting or where he may be hiding.On Wednesday morning, Police Chief Gerry Whitman said that detectives are no longer looking for a white Dodge Neon that Garcia-Gomez was believed to have fled in. The car was found in California, 7NEWS confirmed later. There were reports Wednesday evening that the vehicle was found in Los Angeles, but Denver police would not confirm that. Garcia-Gomez lived in the Los Angeles area before moving to Denver.Police don't know where Garcia-Gomez is now and have launched a manhunt that extends into Mexico. Authorities say Garcia-Gomez has connections in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Mexico and authorities along the border and in Nevada and California are on alert.
Police released this photo of Detective "Donnie" Young with his wife Kelly and their two daughters.
On Tuesday evening dozens of police cars were scrambled after a white Dodge Neon similar to the suspect's was found in Denver. It turned out to be a false alarm. That was before the search for the car was called off.The U.S. Attorney's office has issued a federal warrant for Garcia-Gomez. The warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution opens the door to federal help in the case, including assistance from the FBI, U.S. Marshals and other federal agents.Garcia-Gomez is a Mexican national and suspected to be in the United States illegally. Other than a couple of minor traffic tickets, Garcia-Gomez has no criminal record, so there is concern he could be trying to return to Mexico.7NEWS Investigators learned that Garcia-Gomez was hired at the Cherry Cricket on false immigration documents, including a fake Social Security number and a phony resident alien card. Rivas told the News that when she and her boyfriend moved to from Los Angeles to Denver with her family nearly a year ago, her uncle, a kitchen manager at the Cherry Cricket restaurant, got Garcia-Gomez a job as a dishwasher.Cherry Cricket is owned in part by Denver mayor John Hickenlooper. Since he became mayor, he put the restaurant in a blind trust so he doesn't deal with the day-to-day operations of the restaurant and won't comment on how Garcia-Gomez was hired.Tom Tancredo, a Littleton Republican who has always been very vocal about U.S. immigration policies, said Hickenlooper and his staff should have done more to ensure that the staff they hire aren't illegal immigrants. He said immigration officials should have been contacted by police after they issued Garcia-Gomez three traffic citations.Officers have been working nonstop to track down the killer since the shooting occurred. Whitman said several officers slept for more than two hours Tuesday. It was the first time they've gotten rest since Sunday, Whitman said.Police say if you know anything about Garcia-Gomez's whereabouts, you are asked to call CrimeStoppers. Garcia-Gomez is described as a Hispanic male, 5 foot 6 inches tall, 150 pounds, with shaved dark brown hair, brown eyes, a thin mustache, and tattoos on his left hand.It was a tip from the CrimeStoppers hotline that led police to Garcia-Gomez. Crime Stoppers is offering a $50,000 reward for information about the case and about the suspect's whereabouts.Hickenlooper said that reward may soon grow."My job is to make sure the Chief Whitman and his team have all the resource necessary. If they need a bigger reward my job is to get that reward. If they need more people, more resources, my job is to get them those resources," Hickenlooper said.Tipsters can remain anonymous. Anyone with knowledge of the case is being urged to call (720) 913-STOP or (720) 913-7867.
Family Plans For Funeral
In the meantime, Young's family is preparing for his funeral on Friday. Whitman said the slain officer's wife, Kelly Young, wants to see the suspect caught before someone else gets hurt.Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Because he was a former Marine, Young will be buried with full military honors at Ft. Logan National Cemetery. The public is invited.7NEWS has learned the city will treat Bishop's injuries and Young's death as "work-related" incidents. That means there will be financial support for both families.However, special funds have also been established for anyone wishing to donate to funds for the Denver police officers.For the family of Detective Donald Young, a special fund has been set up at:Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union 700 W. 39th Ave. Denver, CO 80216For Detective John H. Bishop, send donations to:Denver Police Protective Association 2105 Decatur St. Denver, CO 80211