Law Enforcement

Three Officer-Involved Shootings and Two Dead in Thirteen Hours

Bank robbery suspect Thomas Snyder was killed at the American Motel in Wheat Ridge early on January 12.
Denver7 via YouTube/Lakewood Police Department
Bank robbery suspect Thomas Snyder was killed at the American Motel in Wheat Ridge early on January 12.
The 68 officer-involved shootings that took place in Colorado in 2019 were the most in the state since at least 2010, and possibly a horrible new record — albeit one that may not last long. Denver police took part in two fatal officer-involved shootings during the first six days of the new year, and this weekend, three more incidents of this type occurred over a span of thirteen hours or so across the state, leaving two more people dead and one cop with non-life-threatening injuries.

Add a shooting that wounded three juveniles and two adults on the 17100 block of East Adriatic Place in Aurora late on Saturday, January 11, and the result is some of Colorado's most extreme and concentrated gun violence in recent memory.

The first shooting is the one about which authorities have released the least amount of information at this writing. The Garfield County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that one person was killed in gunplay that happened at around 2 p.m. on the 11th along Interstate 70 between the mile markers for New Castle and South Canyon. However, the GCSO press release on the subject concentrates primarily on the interstate's temporary closure (the roadway was subsequently reopened) than the specifics that led to the death, beyond noting that a critical-incident team with the Ninth Judicial District has been activated to investigate what happened.

At around 11:57 p.m. that same day, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, more bullets flew near the Colorado Springs intersection of Galley Road and Arrawanna Street — the location of a traffic stop that soon went awry. The EPCSO notes that following the responding Colorado Springs Police Department officer's request for assistance from a fellow cop, the male driver of the suspect vehicle shot at the officers, who were able to return fire even though one of them was struck. The driver then fled the scene before getting into a traffic accident at Pikes Peak Avenue and Dunsmere Street and escaping on foot. He currently remains at large. Meanwhile, a CSPD law enforcer was transported to a nearby hospital. A full recovery is anticipated.

Just over an hour later, at approximately 1 a.m. on Sunday, January 12, members of the West Metro SWAT team were called to Wheat Ridge's American Motel, at 10101 West Interstate 70 Frontage Road North, amid reports that a wanted adult male — suspected bank robber Thomas Snyder, 52 — was at the facility.

Lakewood Police say two hours of negotiation ensued, but the suspect refused to leave. So at 3:05 a.m., the SWAT crew entered his room, where they're said to have encountered Snyder armed with a handgun. When he didn't immediately comply with an order to drop the weapon, he was shot and killed by a pair of Lakewood police officers on the squad.

The officers have been put on administrative leave — standard policy after such shootings — pending the completion of an inquiry into what went down. It's a drill police departments across Colorado know very well at this point.