Brian Fritze Shot After Putting Gun to Head, Running Toward Highway

All too often, law enforcers are faced with suicide-by-cop scenarios — including incidents like one in Denver circa 2013 when a man was killed by cops after holding a gun to his head. According to the Garfield County Sheriff's Office, something similar took place this week prior to the fatal shooting by deputies of Parachute's Brian Fritze, but with what was viewed as a potentially more dangerous twist.

Reports say Fritze ran toward Interstate 70 traffic with a firearm pointed at his own temple.

Fritze had no shortage of prior arrests, notes the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. He was busted in Oklahoma in 2004 for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and possession of a controlled dangerous substance — and after serving time on those beefs, he went back to the Big House in late 2005 after being convicted of grand larceny. By 2008, he was in Colorado and racking up enough DUIs to be labeled a habitual offender. And then, last year, he was arrested twice on domestic-violence related charges — once in May and again in December.

The previous domestic violence beefs had been filed in the misdemeanor category. But on Tuesday, February 10, deputies responded to a call that reportedly drifted into the felony realm. Descriptions of Fritze and the vehicle he was driving (a red truck) were circulated, and at what the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent estimates at 4:30 p.m., he was spotted behind the wheel of his ride heading to Interstate 70 not far from Parachute.

A chase ensued, with Fritze said to have reached highway speeds of 95 miles per hour before hitting some spikes set out to stop him by the Colorado State Patrol, which had by then been recruited to be part of the pursuit. He responded by abandoning his vehicle. After that, the Post-Independent, citing police and witness descriptions, says he put a gun to his head and ran down an embankment toward I-70 traffic.

At that point, deputies determined that Fritze was endangering the lives of other drivers as much as he was risking his own and opened fire. The bullets from one of them ended up killing him.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is looking into the particulars of the shooting. But we know that, as has happened in the past, Fritze's decision to put a gun to his head didn't dissuade law reps from pulling the trigger.

Here's a larger look at Fritze's most recent booking photo. Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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

Latest Stories