No Charges in Make My Day Shooting: Roberto Zamora on Mushrooms?

 Earlier this month, we told you about the death of CU Boulder student Roberto Zamora, nineteen, after being shot by the owner of a home at 98 Pima Court that he invaded; see our previous coverage below.

Zamora's behavior as described by police and witnesses on the scene was strange — and while postmortem toxicology reports are not yet complete, authorities are now saying he may have been under the effect of hallucinogenic mushrooms at the time of the shooting.

Even before that's confirmed, however, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett has decided not to charge the homeowner, identified by neighbors as Jim McCain, with a crime under what's colloquially known as Colorado's Make My Day law.

On May 4, multiple accounts maintain that Zamora banged on doors and windows and yelled at residents of multiple houses before breaking through the glass door of McCain's home and physically engaging with him. He was subsequently shot in the chest and died from the wound.

According to Zamora's loved ones, such actions were wholly out of character for him. And in a statement about his decision not to file charges in the case, Garnett alludes to the mushroom report while divulging fresh information about an entry to another home prior to McCain's.

"Final toxicology results from the autopsy are pending, but Mr. Zamora was reportedly under the influence of at least one drug at the time of this incident," he writes.

However, he continues, "the evidence developed by the Boulder Police in their investigation showed that on May 4, 2015, Mr. Zamora attempted to enter other nearby homes (and did actually enter one other home briefly) prior to the incident at 98 Pima Court. Several people observed Mr. Zamora prior to the shooting and all described him as behaving bizarrely and aggressively.

"At 98 Pima Court, Mr. Zamora entered the home forcefully and without permission and then aggressively attacked the homeowner. The facts and evidence in this case, which have been carefully and thoroughly investigated by the Boulder Police Department, fit the type of circumstance to which the ‘make my day’ law applies and the homeowner would also have been justified in his actions under Colorado self-defense law.... Therefore, there will be no criminal charges filed against the homeowner in this case."

Once again, Garnett also cites "a case a few years ago in which an intoxicated young woman was shot upon trespassing into a house."

That person, recent CU Boulder grad Zoey Ripple, survived being shot by a homeowner in 2012; see more about her case below. In the meantime, Garnett adds, "It is unfortunate that we continue to see incidents in Boulder where people under the influence of drugs or alcohol become so intoxicated that they illegally trespass into another’s residence, or otherwise end up in situations that result in injury or, as in this case, death."

Continue for our previous coverage.

Update, 8:13 a.m. May 6: New developments continue to surface in relation to the fatal Make My Day-style shooting in Boulder on Monday, May 4; see our previous coverage and updates below.

Multiple news agencies are identifying the homeowner who fired the fatal shot as Jim McCain — and the intruder killed was Roberto Zamora, a nineteen-year-old student at CU Boulder who lived only about two minutes away from the 98 Pima Court home where he died. He reportedly wasn't wearing either a shirt or shoes at the time.

At this point, there's no explanation for Zamora's bizarre behavior prior to the shooting, which included banging on doors and windows, yelling at residents and ultimately breaking through the glass door of the McCain home and getting into what the Boulder Police Department describes as a physical fight before being struck by a gunshot to the chest. His loved ones are baffled and heartsick over what happened, as they told Fox31 in a clip shared here.

Zamora's Facebook page says that he's originally from Los Angeles and lists him as both studying and working at CU Boulder. Here's one photo from his gallery....

...and another:

In addition, Zamora also maintained a not terribly active Twitter account — although one tweet from this past November seems even stranger in retrospect:

In an interview with the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett took no position about whether McCain's actions fall under Colorado's Make My Day law, noting that the incident remains under investigation. However, he likened the circumstances to a bizarre case in Boulder circa 2012 involving a just-graduated CU Boulder student, Zoey Ripple.

On May 23 of that year, as we reported at the time, Timothy Justice and Doreen Orion were asleep in their spectacular College Avenue home — an abode described in an affidavit as being in a remote section of Boulder accessible by a road on a steep incline. The property was well-fenced and the surrounding area was covered with rocks, trees and bushes, with only the lengthy driveway allowing access to the residence.

At that point, Orion heard a noise outside the French door of the master bedroom. She initially assumed an animal was causing the ruckus — at least until she saw a glowing light and watched as an unidentified person entered through a sliding screen door. The couple ordered the person to leave several times, they stressed to officers, before Orion told Justice, "Get the gun," which was conveniently located in a nearby nightstand. He grabbed the weapon, chambered a round and fired toward the light, striking the intruder — Ripple — in the hip from a distance of about six feet.

At that point, Justice switched on the bedroom light to see Ripple on the floor at the foot of the bed, incongruously making a cell phone call. An instant later, Orion dialed a phone of her own, punching in the digits "9-1-1."

Later that morning, the reporting officer spoke with Ripple at Boulder Community Hospital, shortly before she was administered a dose of pain killers to deal with her injury. She told him she thought the Orion-Justice home was just "a step up" from the location of a house party she'd attended earlier in the evening. When she entered the home, she said "the same thing I always say when I open a door: 'Hello.'" However, the response she received — a lot of shouting and yelling — only served to confuse her, especially since she thought she was with people she knew at a friend's house until the moment she was blasted by Justice's gun.

Justice wasn't charged in the incident, but Ripple, was. The grad — whose blood alcohol level after the incident registered at a .2, more than double the legal limit for intoxication — was accused of felony trespassing. That October, she pleaded guilty in the case and received a deferred sentence featuring a provision that the conviction would be expunged from her record if she stayed out of trouble for the next eighteen months.

No doubt toxicology tests will also be conducted in the latest incident, which "sounds very similar to the Zoey Ripple case," Garnett told the Camera. "It's the same situation, but it is very tragic in this case that the intruder died."

Here's the aforementioned Fox31 report featuring comments from Zamora's family members. It's followed by our previous coverage.

Update, 10:43 a.m. May 5: Earlier today, we told you about what appeared to be a Make My Day incident in Boulder that left an alleged home intruder dead; see our previous coverage below.

Moments ago, the Boulder Police Department released additional information about the case.

A spokesperson reveals that the man had tried to break into numerous residences before entering the one where he was killed — and the fatal shooting was allegedly preceded by an attack.

As we previously noted, the situation that resulted in authorities being called took place at around 8:40 p.m. last night, May 4.

Prior to that, however, the cops say the man had not only attempted to gain entry to other houses, but he also yelled at residents, as well as banging on doors and windows.

The couple at 98 Pima Court told investigators they heard similar noises coming from a rear window of their house as they were watching television. The male resident responded by telling his female companion to contact the police and then grabbed a handgun.

That's around when the suspect started banging on the screen door at the house's main entrance, police say. It's unclear at this point if the screen door was locked, but the man is said to have shattered its glass and burst into the house.

The male resident of the house was standing nearby when the man entered and physically knocked him to the ground, the cops' account continues. A fight ensued — but it ended when the resident, who told police he feared for his life, fired a single shot into the man's chest. By the time police arrived, he was already dead.

The male and female residents have already been questioned and released. They're not being identified at this time, and they may not be if the Boulder District Attorney's Office decides not to charge them with a crime.

Here's a brief 7News piece from the scene, followed by our initial report.

Original post, 7:05 a.m.: Colorado's Make My Day rule offers legal sanctuary to individuals who shoot and kill people who invade their homes if they feel their lives are at risk — and such incidents are often controversial.

Consider the matter of Darrell Kutchin, who in 2011 took the life of seventeen-year-old Marcus Duran in a home break-in; the incident didn't lead to criminal charges. Months later, Kutchin went public and argued that he did the right thing — but Duran's mom was upset that he didn't fire a warning shot of attempt to injure rather than kill.

No telling if a shooting in Boulder last night will stir similar passions. But it has all the earmarks of a Make My Day case.

At about 8:40 p.m. on Monday, May 4, according to the Boulder Police Department, BPD officers, joined by fire department and emergency medical personnel, were called to a home at 98 Pima Court. The area is captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View on Google Maps."

Upon their arrival, the assorted responders found a man dead of a gunshot wound.

Investigators believe the man "broke through the front glass door and was confronted by a person in the home," notes the BPD release.

At this point, police aren't saying if the shooter was the home's owner. But they do confirm that two people were present at the time, and both are cooperating with the cops.

7News reports that the presumed shooter was led away from the house wearing paper bags on his hands — a technique used to protect forensic evidence.

Here's a look at the area in the immediate aftermath of the emergency call via one tweet....

...and a second....

....from CBS4's Karen Morfitt.

Thus far, police aren't identifying the parties involved in the shooting. However, anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact Boulder Police Detective Cantu at 303-441-4328 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or 1-800-444-3776.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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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