9News at Center of Right-Wing Storm Over Civic Center Park Killing

Lee Keltner and Jeremiah Elliott face off shortly before Keltner was fatally shot near the Denver Art Museum on October 10.
Lee Keltner and Jeremiah Elliott face off shortly before Keltner was fatally shot near the Denver Art Museum on October 10. 9News
The fatal shooting of Lee Keltner and the arrest of Matthew Dolloff on suspicion of first-degree murder following dueling demonstrations at Civic Center Park on October 10 has put 9News in the sort of awkward position that broadcast outlets seek to avoid: being the story rather than covering it.

The station had contracted with Dolloff to provide security for a crew assigned to the afternoon events: a so-called Patriot Muster involving ultra-conservative pro-police forces and a BLM-Antifa soup drive scheduled around the same time in order to counter the other group's messaging.

Soon after Dolloff's arrest, the city reported that he was not licensed as a security guard in Denver, and 9News now says that its employees had no idea he was packing heat. The station has also released two new videos, including one showing an argument between Keltner and a Black Lives Matter protester in the moments before the shooting.

The protester had previously been identified in numerous news reports as Jacob Kelly. But while his name has been removed from the Denver Police Department's probable-cause statement on Dolloff's arrest provided to media outlets on October 13, an unexpurgated version that managed to slip out earlier names him as Jeremiah Elliott, as seen below. (Note that Dolloff's name is misspelled throughout the document.)
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Denver Police Department via Twitter
Sources say that 9News began hiring security because of incidents late last year involving reporter Jeremy Jojola. Contacted by Westword, Jojola referred all questions to 9News President and General Manager Mark Cornetta, who declined to provide any details beyond the following statement:
As stated yesterday [October 12], 9NEWS does not contract directly with individual security personnel. 9NEWS contracted with Pinkerton and had directed that security guards accompanying our personnel not be armed. None of 9NEWS’ crew accompanied by Mr. Dolloff on Saturday were aware that he was armed.
Westword has reported in detail about conflicts with white-supremacist and fascist outfits as a result of Jojola's work. In December 2019, he told us about ugly threats over stories about neo-Nazis. This past March, we revealed that Jojola had filed a restraining order against a hate criminal who'd come to his house, which was occupied at the time by his wife and new baby. And in August, he discussed his decision to quit Twitter after being deluged with vile attacks.

The initial attacks on October 10 were verbal, as seen in this altercation between Keltner and Elliott captured in the following 9News clip, which contains plenty of profanity — such as Elliott's "Mace me, motherfucker."

The second video depicts what happened after Dolloff fired at Keltner.

The conservative blogosphere has now spent days working overtime in an effort to connect Dolloff to left-wing extremists (longtime columnist and right-wing provocateur Michelle Malkin has even linked Jojola to Dolloff on Twitter), as well as to blame Elliott for what happened to Keltner even though the videos confirm that the two parted prior to the gunfire.

But aspersions are also being cast on 9News by the likes of The Red State, which claimed in an October 12 item that "at least one well-known field reporter for 9News — Kyle Clark — is identified by a BLM/Antifa website as being 'one of us' in a Twitter comment."

A random tweet about Clark and 9News proves less than nothing about where their sympathies lie. But that sort of nastiness is being spewed regularly right now across social media platforms — and is likely to continue for some time to come.

Click to read the censored version of the Matthew Dolloff probable-cause statement.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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