The murder of eighteen-year-old Anthony Benavidez in a Thornton trailer park isn't the only violent death to take place in that community over recent days.
Also killed was Wesley Maldonado, who died at the hands of police officers. Maldonado, who had a lengthy criminal record, led cops on a wild high-speed chase that went back and forth from Thornton to Denver twice before winding up on the block where a gunshot appears to have sparked the entire incident. Photos, video and details below.
Thornton police spokesman Officer Matt Kandt, who also filled us in about the Benavidez homicide (the teen died from a knife wound to the throat; a seventeen year old is in custody for the crime), lays out the facts.
"At approximately 11:30 p.m. on the 2nd of January, officers responded to a report of domestic violence, with shots fired, on the 300 block of East 88th Avenue," Kandt says. "It was an apartment complex, and when officers arrived at the scene, they observed the suspect leaving the scene in a vehicle."
And leaving quickly. Officers gave chase, and Kandt notes that "it was quite a pursuit. It went down into Denver, came back to Thornton, went back into Denver again, and then came back to Thornton where it all began -- the 300 block of East 88th."
This trip took approximately thirty minutes, with I-25 and Washington Street among the routes noted by CBS4 in its coverage.
Shortly after returning to the original scene, Kandt goes on, "the suspect appeared to intentionally collide with two marked police vehicles, and then appeared to point a firearm at police officers."
The cops responded in force. Four officers -- one from Thornton, three from the Denver Police Department -- opened fire on Maldonado.
"He was struck and later pronounced deceased at the scene," Kandt says. "And afterward, a firearm was located in the suspect's possession, and there was evidence that the weapon had been fired at some point during the incident."
Confirmation of this last assertion comes from one witness who spoke with CBS4: He said Maldonado was "poppin' off shots" as he drove past, causing a couple of cars to swerve in an effort to get away from him.
Continue for more about the death of Wesley Maldonado, including additional photos, a video and an interactive graphic. At this point, the names of the officers involved have not been released, but Kandt says the one from Thornton is currently on paid administrative leave -- standard procedure after any officer-involved shooting. "The whole incident is being investigated by the Adams County Critical Incident team," he confirms.
Maldonado, meanwhile, had what Kandt characterizes as an "extensive criminal history: a weapons charge, flight, counterfeiting, loitering, child neglect, traffic offenses, disturbing the peace, vehicle theft, disorderly conduct and restraining orders."
Despite the latter, a woman described as the mother of Maldonado's daughter was caught by CBS4 cameras the next day sobbing in the street at the site where the suspect was gunned down. Her grief adds perspective and an additional dimension to the story.
Look below to see a larger version of a recent Maldonado mug shot, plus an interactive graphic of the area near the scene (if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map") and the CBS4 report.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive circa September 2013: "Video: Fourth recent officer-involved shooting targets burglar at detective's home."
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