Family reveals that man tragically shot by Aurora police during attack was a decorated Vietnam veteran

4493

AURORA | An Aurora man reportedly fending off an attacker inside his home and then shot by police arriving on the scene was a decorated Vietnam vet, family members have revealed to Denver TV stations.

Police have released few details about the incident, citing the ongoing and complicated investigation.

Metz issued a statement Tuesday night explaining the need to be tight-lipped, at least in the early days of the investigation.

“This incident was not only tragic, but incredibly heartbreaking for the involved family, the community, and our Department. This makes it even more difficult in not being able to provide information at this time as we are committed to being transparent and sharing information as soon as possible after a critical incident,” he said.

An attorney for the family told Channel 7 news in Denver that police shot to death Richard Black, Jr. after they entered the house during a chaotic scene.

The incident started around 1:30 a.m. Monday when police received multiple calls about a break in at a home near Iola Street and East Montview Boulevard.

Police said when they arrived the scene was “chaotic and violent” and officers heard gunshots from inside the home at 10609 E. Montview Blvd.

Officers then encountered an armed man and an officer shot the man, killing him, police said.

Police then searched the house and found a second man dead inside and a child suffering serious injuries. The child was taken to an area hospital and is expected to survive, police said.

Siddhartha Rathod, an attorney for Black’s family, told 7News the intruder was naked and trying to drown Black’s 11-year-old grandson in a bathtub. Black shot and killed the intruder, he said.

Just after that, police shot and killed Black during the melee. Details of how that happened have not been released.

“This is a very heartbreaking and tragic situation for everyone involved. We are providing assistance through our victim advocates to help the family of the deceased resident through this very difficult time,” Police Chief Nick Metz said in a statement Monday.

Metz said the department would hold a news conference Thursday where they would release more details.

Three police cruisers were parked in front of the home Tuesday as investigators, including one wearing a plastic protective suit, appeared to carry evidence from the house.

According to Adams County property records, a Richard and Jeanette Black have owned the home since at least 1979.

Steve Ponikiski, 42, lives just across an alley from the house where the shooting occurred. He said he was up late watching the news early Monday when he heard three gunshots, then a pause, then four more shots.

“It was that quick,” he said.

He said he didn’t hear anyone shouting for someone to put down a gun before the shots but assumes that second burst of four shots was when the officer opened fire.

Ponikiski said he didn’t know his neighbor but knew an older Army veteran lived there with his family, which he thinks included his children and grandchildren.

The neighborhood has seen steadily climbing property values in recent years, thanks in part to the addition of the Stanley Marketplace to the west.

Ponikiski said that while property values are up, he worries that crime is inching toward the high rates the neighborhood saw in the 1990s.

Police said the family of the homeowner is asking for privacy during this time but will likely issue a public statement later this week.

The officer who shot the man, whose name also has not been released, was placed on administrative leave as per department policy when an officer fires their weapon on duty.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and they are working with the Adams County district attorney’s office as well as Denver police.