Josephine Echols slaying: Killer Kiarron Parker's PCP-fueled past (47)

Update: Aurora Police have now identified the man who killed Josephine Echols outside a church service officiated by her son as Kiarron Parker, 29 -- and the off-duty Denver Police officer who put him down as six-year vet Antonio Milow, Echols's nephew. And the more info that comes out, the more likely it becomes that this tragedy was a random criminal act by a man with a history of the same, sometimes fueled by drugs.

Parker had an extensive criminal record, much of it having to do with narcotics. For instance, as CBS4 reports, he spent three years in stir in Colorado after being convicted of possessing a controlled substance.

He was released in 2008, but it didn't take long for him to get into more trouble, this time in Oklahoma. His former lawyer told the Associated Press that in February 2009, Parker smoked some pot without realizing it had been sprinkled with PCP -- an extra ingredient that presumably contributed to a subsequent car accident. He was jailed, then released without the filing of charges.

But the next morning, presumably still feeling that PCP buzz, he freaked out during an encounter with a stranger trying to talk him down. He soon broke into a home, took off all his clothes and then jumped out a window after the abode's residents returned.

Next step? Forcing his way into a second home, where he assaulted a cop (by apparently closing a door on his arm) tasked with taking him into custody.

After being convicted in this case, Parker was placed behind bars from December 2009 until this past November. At that point, notes CBS4, the remainder of his hefty sentence (due to run through 2021) was suspended in the wake of his successful completion of education and, yes, substance abuse programs.

As for what happened this past Sunday, it appears Parker was parked in a car when he got into a fight with a friend. (Was he on drugs? Toxicology reports are pending.) After getting upset, he drove off, winding up at the Destiny Christian Center, near where his life ended just before he ended that of a woman known to her friends and family as Mama Jo.

Here's the CBS4 report and a larger look at a Parker mug shot, followed by our previous coverage.

Update, 5:50 a.m. April 24: At this writing, we still don't know the name of the man whose gunshots near The Destiny Christian Center on Sunday took the life of Josephine Echols, the beloved mother of pastor De Lono Straham known as Mama Jo. But we have more details about precisely what happened. It appears Echols died trying to help a person involved in a car crash who wound up killing her instead.

According to 9News, services at the church were just ending when members of the congregation heard a car crash outside.

Echols, a nurse by trade, immediately headed outside to see if she could help, but she wasn't as quick as Tarrell Martin, who served as musician in the church band. But rather than being grateful for the assist, the man involved in the wreck freaked out on Martin instead, pulling a gun and chasing after him.

The man soon had Martin on the ground and a gun to his head. But Martin says no bullets came out when he pulled the trigger.

Was the safety on? No telling at this point -- but the delay gave Martin enough time to take off, and he sprinted toward the church.

Unfortunately, this perfectly natural decision had fatal consequences. The gun began working again, and the man started firing it in the direction of Martin. In the process, his shots struck Echols.

More might have died if an off-duty Denver Police officer who also happens to be Straham's cousin hadn't been present, and strapped. He reportedly drew his weapon and killed the gunman.

We expect the shooter to be ID'd soon. In the meantime, Straham and those in his family -- and his church family -- are seeking answers to the unanswerable while mourning the loss of someone taken from them by fate at its cruelest.

Look below to see the latest 9News report, followed by our earlier coverage.

Original item, 7:40 a.m. April 23: Josephine Echols was always front and center when her son, De Lono Straham (seen at right), officiated services at The Destiny Christian Center, an Aurora church where he acts as pastor. But now, only her memory will warm the worship space.

Yesterday, she was killed by a thus-far unidentified gunman who appears to have been killed by an off-duty cop before he could cause even more bloodshed.

Thus far, the Aurora Police Department is releasing only the most basic information about the crime. The APD responded to a shooting at the Destiny Center shortly before 3 p.m. yesterday. Upon their arrival, officers found two people suffering from gunshot wounds, both of whom subsequently died at a local hospital.

Investigators believe the suspected shooter drove into the parking lot while church services were ongoing. Shortly thereafter, notes 7News, at least a dozen shots were fired, most of them apparently outside the building. Among those shooting was an off-duty Denver Police officer, who exchanged fire with the gunman. No confirmation that the man who provoked the tragedy was killed as a result, but the APD confirms that no suspects are currently being sought.

What started the exchange? The APD isn't floating any theories yet, but the New York Daily News refers to an argument involving two people in the parking lot as the spur.

Thus far, authorities haven't released Echols's name, but a church spokeswoman has confirmed to media outlets that she died in the shooting. There's also this, from the Destiny Center Facebook page:

Please keep Pastor Delono Straham, the Straham family and The Destiny Center in your prayers. Thank you! Please try and refrain from calling the family. Please send all concerns to the message box. Thank you!

Among the responses to this note from parishioners: "My Jo you gave me so much!!!! I love you. My MY God I cry out" and "We live in such a broken world that needs Jesus. Praying for you all."

Look below to see a Fox31 report about the shooting:

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More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Pablo Del Rio killed by shot in back during O'Reilly Auto Parts store robbery (46)."

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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