Suspect Killed Himself in 6th and Inca Denver Police Shooting and Fire

A view of the fire that broke out at the 6th and Inca residence during the standoff.
A view of the fire that broke out at the 6th and Inca residence during the standoff. Courtesy of 9News
Right now, there are more questions than answers about the officer-involved shooting near Sixth Avenue and Inca Street yesterday that led to a standoff and a massive fire.

We know that two officers shot at the scene were in fair condition at last report, and a third hurt in a car crash while racing to the scene has already been released from the hospital.

Moreover, we have received confirmation that the suspect in the incident, subsequently identified as Joseph Quintana, 35, sustained injuries, and after he was taken into custody, he was transported to Denver Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead the next day. The Denver coroner's office later determined that his cause of death was suicide by way of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Thus far, the DPD isn't offering any details about what led to the shootout, which paralyzed several city blocks and played havoc on Tuesday's snowy rush hour. Roadblocks stayed in place throughout the morning at the Santa Fe Drive intersections of both Sixth and Seventh avenues.

The January 27 shooting is the second since our roundup of ten Colorado officer-involved gun-play episodes in 2019, published seven days ago. On January 23, suspect Thomas McGeorge took a bullet from Colorado Springs police officers; he's expected to recover.

Among the distinctions of the latest incident: It's the first this year to involve Denver police officers, the first in the state this year to result in significant officer injuries, and the first to involve a standoff — one that lasted so long that it prompted not one, but two press conferences.

click to enlarge Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen at the second news conference about the 6th and Inca shooting. - DENVER POLICE DEPARTMENT VIA PERISCOPE
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen at the second news conference about the 6th and Inca shooting.
Denver Police Department via Periscope
The videos from both are accessible here.

The first tweet from Denver police was sent at 2:04 p.m. on January 27. The message reads: "#DPD in the area of 6th & Inca following report of shots fired. 2 officers injured, transported to hospital w/good prognoses. Scene is active, avoid areas around 6th, 7th, Santa Fe & Galapago. No suspect info at this time. Watch here for updates."

Another flurry of tweets followed, passing along information about road closures and the like. Then, at 4:11 p.m., came this offering: "ALERT: Due to a possibly barricaded suspect, #DPD will be deploying a chemical agent in the 600 block of Inca. Residents in the area are advised to keep their doors & windows shut. If you suffer an adverse reaction to the agent, please call 720-913-2000, or 911 if severe."

More than an hour later, a Twitter update stated, "The scene in the 600 block of Inca is still active and officers are still working to contact the suspect. Roads in the area remain closed and residents are being asked to remain sheltered in place. Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve this matter."

Cut to 6:01 p.m., when the DPD shared this: "Officers have taken one suspect into custody in the 600 block of Inca. @Denver_Fire is putting out a fire at the location. Area roads will reopen gradually, but the 600 block of Inca will remain closed. Investigation is ongoing. Thank you for your patience."

In the midst of these developments, a press conference was held at Denver Health Medical Center, where the officers had been transported. As you'll see in the clip below, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock were among the participants.

During the gathering, Hancock revealed that the initial call of shots fired on the 600 block of Inca came in at 11:41 a.m. Officers who responded to the shooting some time later — expect questions about the delay — spotted a shell casing, and as they approached the residence, they came under fire. One of the officers was reportedly hit in the abdomen, the other in the leg.

The pair — a veteran and an officer relatively new to the force — are expected to make a full recovery. So, too, is the officer involved in the crash, who's part of the department's SWAT team.

Over the course of the standoff, a fire broke out at the residence, with the Denver Fire Department called on to battle the blaze. No one other than the suspect is believed to have been inside the residence during the standoff.

The risks to law enforcers and emergency personnel alike were the focus of Pazen's second news conference of the day; it took place around 8 p.m.

"Unfortunately, there was a fire at this residence," Pazen noted. "The individual that we believe was holed up inside was taken into custody and transported to Denver Health Medical Center. He does have an injury. We're not going to share his condition at this time."

At that point, Pazen shifted gears, saying, "What's important at this moment is to let the community know this situation is resolved. We believe this threat has been taken care of and there's no additional threat to the community at this time. I would also like to commend our team of officers, who displayed great courage in this incident. They showed great restraint in the many hours it took to get this resolved. I would also like to thank Denver Health Medical Center for the treatment they provided for our officers, as well as the Denver paramedic division and the Denver Fire Department for their assistance here. This has been a very challenging day not only for our department, but also for our community."

Here's a link to the video of press conference number two:
From there, Pazen spent most of his time fending off questions from the collected media on topics he wasn't ready to address. He declined to talk about the cause of the fire or whether those "chemical agents" mentioned in the tweet were a factor in it starting, nor would he discuss a potential motive for the suspect or anything about his background or potential criminal history.

He did confirm that he'd met with the injured officers and they were in good spirits. In his view, they "demonstrated great bravery in this. They were simultaneously trying to put out the fire while they were dealing with an armed suspect." Likewise, he commended the members of the Denver Police Department, as they rallied behind people they consider members of their family.

As for more information? "I apologize for not being able to share the details," the chief said. "This was as dangerous of a situation as we have in our city. There's a lot more we need to find out in this. But it was a very dangerous situation that our officers were placed in. It was a dangerous situation for our community."

Body-camera video was captured at the scene, and Pazen emphasized that "we're very transparent in this process. When the time comes to show or share any videos that exist, we will do that in accordance with the same policy that we've utilized in previous incidences."

Update: This post was updated at 2 p.m. January 28 to reflect the announcement of the suspect's death, 7 a.m. January 29 to note the release of his name and 9:45 a.m. on January 31 after the Denver coroner's office revealed that he had died by suicide.
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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