Daniel Abeyta decision letter: Shotgunned feet, explosives, a cop acting as a sniper

In August, we told you about the tragic death of Sandra Roskilly, allegedly at the hands of Daniel Abeyta, who was later shot by Denver Police Department Sergeant Jerry Heimbigner.

Now, the Denver District Attorney's Office has announced that no charges will be filed against Heimbigner. The decision letter that makes the determination official includes photos and the most details available to date about this shocking and chaotic incident. See it and more below.

As we've reported, Sandra Roskilly's Facebook page, which remains online at this writing, makes it clear she loved her family -- she reportedly had an autistic son and was close to her brother, Dennis Campbell, and his kin. She also had a soft spot for dogs, as is clear from this photo.

The pic above is from a couple of years ago, as is this one: But earlier this year, she underwent a personal transformation. The following image was shared on August 4 along with the caption, "Sandra Roskilly celebrating 200 pound weight loss at Pat Benatar Concert:" But celebrations of her achievement were replaced by mourning on August 16. At 10:51 a.m. that day, according to the decision letter, Abeyta's wife, Autume Marie Estrada, dialed 911. The call lasted for more than twenty minutes, with the key information recorded as follows:
What happened? Autume told the dispatcher that her husband had fired a shotgun at her feet from what the report characterizes as "a short distance away, causing massive trauma to both lower extremities." Around the same time, another 911 call came in, this time from someone who'd been driving near the scene, at 2265 South Irving Street. The man said he'd seen someone later identified as Abeyta "setting a propane tank in the middle of the road. And there was like two, he had like two [inaudible] rifles -- I don't know if they were real or play but he's setting a propane tank in the middle of the road...." Continue for more about the Daniel Abeyta case, including photos, a video and the decision letter. Another witness told investigators she'd seen Abeya standing in front of Roskilly's house pointing and firing a pistol -- presumably the fatal shot. Afterward, those who knew Roskilly speculated that she'd been trying to come to the aid of Autume, who she'd befriended, when Abeyta killed her.

Afterward, the witness says Abeyta, who is said to have had two additional guns strapped to him, grabbed a bag from one of his vehicles -- presumably one containing ammunition that's depicted in photos accompanying the decision letter. He also allegedly shot at the propane tank, causing it to fly down the street.

By now, police were either arriving on the scene or on the way, and they soon discovered an additional complication: Autume's seven-year-old daughter was also present and reacting with understandable hysterics. During the 911 call, the letter notes the girl screaming "Mom!" and "Mommy!" as Autume struggled to maintain consciousness.

Meanwhile, numerous people saw Abeyta in the street. Among other things, he's quoted as declaring, "I didn't do anything!"

The cops quickly began establishing a perimeter and got out their long guns -- necessary because they needed to maintain distance between them and Abeyta due to the abundant weaponry on display. Here's the report's inventory of his arsenal:
Abetya was armed with a Savage 30-06 rifle, mounted on a tripod, a 12 gauge shotgun with a drum magazine attached, and a 9mm handgun. He also had a black bag in which were two boxes of ammunition for the 30-06 rifle; 12 boxes of 9mm handgun ammunition; three boxes of 12 gauge ammunition and a 20 round shotgun drum magazine.

The 30-06 rifle has a four round magazine capacity and Abeyta's rifle had an ammunition holder on the stock loaded with additional rounds. When Denver police firearms examined the rifle, it was found to have a round in the chamber and two rounds in the magazine; his 9mm handgun contained one live round in the chamber and seven rounds in the magazine. The shotgun found to have one live round in the chamber and 18 rounds in the drum.

Another reason for concern was a warning forwarded by the 911 dispatcher on the line with Autume. In her words, Autume's daughter claimed Abeyta "said he wanted to have a shoot-out with officers."

Continue for more about the Daniel Abeyta case, including photos, a video and the decision letter. As Abeyta shot at the propane tank, the report says Sgt. Heimbigner was in position, taking cover behind a nearby truck. One supervisor told Heimbigner, "if it's necessary, take him out."

Moments later, another sergeant acting as a spotter told Heimbigner, "Take the shot," and he did.

The next bit of police-radio chatter: "Party's down! Party's down! We're moving up, we're moving up. Party took one shot."

Shortly thereafter, Abeyta was rushed to Denver Health for a "gunshot wound to the chest with pulmonary contusion and rib fractures." He was in critical condition upon his arrival, but he survived to face a litany of accusations: charges of first-degree murder for killing Rosskilly, first-degree assault for wounding Atume, use of explosives or incendiary devices during the commission of a crime and child abuse.

In Denver DA Mitch Morrissey's legal analysis, he concedes that "the facts of this incident are somewhat unusual in that an officer acted as a 'sniper' and fired a round only after waiting several minutes." However, Morrissey notes that officers on the scene understood that "at least one person in Abeyta's home had been shot and was awaiting aid," he'd been trying to "ignite or detonate an improvised explosive device [the propane tank]," and Rosskilly was "lying on a front porch within the subject's range of fire, injured and apparently not responsive."

Also, "Abeyta had given no indication he intended to surrender without incident."

In light of all these factors, Morrissey determined that Abeyta's shooting was justified and would not result in a criminal allegation. All of those are aimed at Abeyta.

Look below to see additional photos from the report, 7News coverage from shortly after the incident, a Daniel Abeyta mug shot and the decision letter in its entirety.

Continue to see more crime scene photos, a video and the decision letter.

Daniel Abeyta Shooting Decision Letter

More from our Mile High Murder archive circa August: "Sandra Roskilly killed by neighbor who complained about her rose bushes (10)."

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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