Crime

Sonny Archuleta triple murder in Aurora: Guns purchased legally (55-57)

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According to the Aurora Police Department, officers responded to reports of shots fired at a home on the 16000 block of East Ithaca Place shortly before 3 a.m. on Saturday, January 6. Open their arrival, they spoke with a female witness who managed to get away, an adult male later identified as Archuleta, 33, was still inside, and he was armed.

Moreover, three other people inside the home -- they've been ID'd as Stacie Philbrook, 29, Christopher Ratliffe, 33, and Anthony Ticali, 56 -- "appeared lifeless."

The home was quickly surrounded and hostage negotiators managed to make telephone contact with Archuleta. Phone communication continued over the course of several more hours, but the presence of a SWAT team and orders to leave the residence issued over a bullhorn didn't persuade Archuleta to step outside. The cops describe his behavior during this time as irrational.

Finally, as 8 a.m. neared, SWAT teamers drove an armored vehicle close enough to the home to break out a window -- an action that apparently prompted Archuleta to fire multiple shots in their direction. But rather than shooting back, the cops tried to inspire his exit via the use of teargas, to no avail.

About an hour afterward, Archuleta popped up in a second-story window and started shooting an officers again -- and this time, the cops followed suit, striking and killing him. Upon entering the house, they found Philbrook, Ratliffe and Ticali dead in an upstairs bedroom.

What set Archuleta off? One neighbor told CBS4 that he may have been on a meth binge, while other reporting noted that Archuleta's brother, Patricio, had been murdered on Labor Day weekend 2011.

Continue to read more about the Aurora triple murder.
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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