Police: Man fired 24 shots, killing woman and wounding man in dispute over a urinating dog

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DENVER, CO – Police say a dispute over the training of a Denver couple’s dog turned violent and deadly after they say suspect Michael Close fired 24 rounds at a couple that killed the young woman and injured her boyfriend.

During a preliminary hearing over the June shooting, Judge Lisa Teesch-Maguire held Close over for his arraignment on more than 15 counts, including first-degree murder.

Isabella Thallas, a 21-year-old female from Denver, was killed when Close fired his rifle out of his second-story apartment window. Her boyfriend, Darian Simon 27, was struck twice in the legs and survived.

 Denver police homicide Detective Joseph Trujillo testified at the preliminary hearing.

Trujillo gave an overview of what took place that day:

“The shooting followed an exchange of angry words between Close and Simon after Simon’s dog pooped in a rock garden outside Close’s apartment complex. 

“Simon and Thallas had been walking their dog just before noon that day when Close opened his window and screamed, ‘Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?’”

Trujillo testified that a neighborhood surveillance video showed Close open his window blinds and point a rifle at them. Thallas’ boyfriend Simon bent down to pick up poop. Close could be seen shooting at the couple.

When police arrived on the scene, they were met by Chelsea Thompson who identified herself as Close’s girlfriend. Trujillo stated Thompson told police that Close had called her mumbling and crying, saying he had killed two people. 

She told him to turn himself in. He said he was scared and apologized several times. Thompson told police Close was driving towards the mountains in his black Mercedes SUV. Police were able to ping Close’s cell phone and located him.

He was arrested at Pine Junction, southwest of Denver, by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputies.  Police said he was crying and apologizing while being taken into custody. 

Thompson told police she and Close had argued the night before. On the morning of the shooting, Close texted her and said his dog had been attacked by two other dogs. 

Video surveillance did not support his claim. He had sent the text approximately 10 minutes before the encounter with the victims.

Thompson was reported to have said that Close “was not mentally stable and had not been the entire time she knew him” according to Detective Trujillo’s testimony.

According to an article from KDVR.COM, Detective Trujillo testified that Close’s girlfriend said Close had been diagnosed with mental illness but had never sought treatment. Close used street drugs including cocaine, molly, mushrooms, ecstasy and ketamine.

Thompson said after three years of sobriety, Close turned back to alcohol. During the execution of a search warrant investigators found several open containers of alcohol, cocaine residue and six shell casings inside of Close’s apartment. 

An additional 18 shell casings were located outside Close’s apartment window.

Trujillo added that one of Close’s long-time friends was texted by Close after the shooting.

Close wrote:

“Dude, I fu–ed up really fu–ing bad, there’s no going back from this now.” 

Close’s friend also revealed to police that he had intended to take Close to see a therapist that day after Close had divulged that he had been sexually abused by his biological parents. Close further disclosed that he suffered from a personality disorder.

Trujillo reported that Close had no criminal history but was placed on a mental hold by police in 2014.

Investigators discovered that Close had lost his job due to the pandemic.

Close’s defense attorney made known that victim Darian Simon identified the wrong man in a photo line-up when questioned about Close in his hospital room.

However, the judge found that there was plenty of evidence from the surveillance video and Close’s phone records, and he was held to answer without bond.

Close is set for arraignment on January 4th, 2021. He faces sentence enhancers and several charges:

* Two counts of first-degree murder

* Two counts of attempted first-degree murder

* Two counts of first-degree assault

* Nine counts of using a prohibited high-capacity magazine during a crime

* Two counts of prohibited use of a firearm

* One count of disorderly conduct. 

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In another perspective on this shooting, Close’s girlfriend said he’d had mental health issues the whole time she’d known him.  A couple of his friends talked about “trying” to get him to therapy. 

They knew of his situation, but never acted.  And now a young woman is dead and her boyfriend injured, and without his girlfriend.

Who is responsible here?  The shooter or the people around him who failed to get him help?

It’s time to stop blaming the police for shooting armed criminals who have mental health issues (op-ed)

November 9, 2020

LAKE JACKSON, TX  “But he had mental-health issues!”

Like clockwork, as it happens frequently after a high-profile shooting involving the police, the family comes out and cries that their relative had “mental-health issues” as though that disqualifies him or her from reaping the results of their actions. 

In some cases, perhaps it should disqualify them.  If Uncle Bob has a diagnosed disorder but has never been violent, and he absconds from the grocery store with a battery-powered cart while drinking a stolen bottle of wine, law enforcement might be able to see through the issue and respond accordingly. 

The family pays the store for the wine and returns the shopping cart – no harm, no foul.

Even in Uncle Bob’s case, though, I feel there’s an element missing that most people don’t see: the responsibility of the individual, or moving that burden onto the family when the person can’t be responsible for his or her own actions.

We’re missing that whole personal responsibility aspect in many parts of our lives and daily contacts. 

I’m a problem solver. My immediate reaction when I see a problem is to back up a few steps to determine the root cause of the problem and determine how to prevent or correct the issue. It somehow always goes back to personal or family responsibility.

Consider this scenario: Someone gets his car towed for not having insurance. First, what did he do to get stopped?  Speed? Lights out on the car? Expired registration?  All the responsibility of the driver.

During the stop, the police officer discovers that the person doesn’t have car insurance. Why didn’t the driver obtain and maintain insurance as required by federal and state law?

How about this one: If you don’t have a license, why are you driving?  Ride a bike, take the bus, call an Uber.

In Philadelphia recently, a man named Walter Wallace Jr. was shot and killed by Philadelphia Police Department officers when he tried to attack them with a knife. His family almost immediately dropped the “get out of jail free” bomb that he “mental issues.”

I have to call BS, and several thoughts come to mind.  The encounter was the FOURTH one that day for Wallace and police.  His family had called the police three other times that day to report erratic and hostile behavior.

Not once in those three previous encounters did a family member mention to police that Wallace had mental-health issues. Not once. If he even did have those issues, there was no official record of it in the police database. One can assume that no one had ever mentioned that factor before, since there was no record of it.

If he were acting erratically or in a hostile manner, and he did have known mental-health issues, why wouldn’t a family member call his treating physician to get him help?

Why wouldn’t the family contact a mental-health crisis center and get him inpatient treatment?  Secure him for his own protection and the protection of others?  Get him professional help?

None of that happened, but one of two things surely did: Either he was just angry and emotionally immature and couldn’t control his temper, leading to the multiple encounters, or he did have mental-health issues and his family didn’t care enough to get involved. 

Or get medical professionals involved.

Either way, by refusing to get professional medical help for their family member, they set him up to get killed.  They failed to talk to police about the alleged issues despite several opportunities, they failed to control him, and they allowed him to run around with a knife . . . and even called police when they couldn’t control him.

What were responding officers supposed to do?  They’d been to the residence three times that day already, dealt with an angry man, and when they went back for the fourth time, he had a knife.  He refused to drop the knife and obey their commands, and then went on the attack. 

They defended themselves and others. 

They did their job. 

They were forced into a corner and had to fight.

The sad truth is that the family could have prevented his death.  That is, unless they saw it as a get-rich-quick scheme — knowing it would be a high-profile, cops-shot-a-black-man, we-can-call-him-unarmed-and-we’re-getting-paid scenario. 

How incredibly sad if that’s true.

A little more history on Wallace that muddies the water, so to speak.  Wallace had a violent past, a long criminal history, and recorded rap songs about killing cops. If you’re a responding officer, what do you see in your potential adversary, if you know those facts? 

You know he’s going to try to kill you and doesn’t care about breaking the law.

Here’s another scenario – the family cries “he had mental-health issues” after a confrontation with police. Only this time, the guy succeeds in getting close enough to an officer and strikes a fatal blow with a knife, a bat, or a crowbar.  Should the officer’s family feel any better about losing the husband/wife/father/mother/brother/sister because the guy had issues? 

Sarcasm mode on: “Oh well, I know Dad’s gone and will never be here again, but the guy had issues, so it doesn’t matter.”

What if it was an innocent bystander who was killed?  Should that person’s family grieve any less because the person who killed their relative had mental-health issues? Sorry, but this isn’t a viable reason to forget losing someone.  That factor simply doesn’t make it go away – in fact, it makes the grief much worse because the death was preventable.

If the family had been responsible, their relative wouldn’t have been swinging a bat or a knife in the street in the first place – he or she would have been hospitalized or institutionalized and rendered no danger to themselves or others.

I love pit bulls, and I’m not going to open a debate on them, but that’s like having a vicious, fighting-trained pit bull and letting it loose on a playground and it mauls a couple of kids.

The owner would immediately be held responsible.  There is absolutely no difference when dealing with a family member who cannot, for whatever reason, be held responsible for their own actions. 

Another example was the recent multiple-shooting incident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a two-year-old boy died, a nine-year-old girl was kidnapped, and two adults were shot but survived. Kendrick Myles was the shooter, and an extended family member of the little boy and girl.

In 2017, when Myles was a released convicted felon, his probation was revoked because it was reported that he was threatening his family members with a firearm. When he was arrested in relation to the revocation, he was found with illegal drugs and at least one firearm.

His formal arraignment included charges for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Myles’ attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charges but was denied at a final hearing in August 2018.  It is unclear how much, if any, time Myles served for these convictions along with his probation violation.

It is clear, however, that he was free and walking around in October when he fulfilled his promises and threats to harm family members. One could easily cry out for gun control or the intervention of law enforcement into this shooter’s life.  The fact is that the man had an established history of drug trafficking and violent outbursts toward his family yet was allowed to walk free.

The family didn’t stop him.  They knew his nature, knew his past, and knew his intentions, yet did nothing to stop him.  No calls to mental-health clinics.  They didn’t get a pastor or community leader involved.  Nor social workers. They just let the man do his thing and a baby boy died, and other people were harmed.  The lesson learned is that if someone threatens you, believe them. And then take action.

Myles is still alive. He was taken into custody and is going to prison, but that doesn’t bring two-year-old Azariah Christien Thomas back to life.  And his death rests squarely on the family’s shoulders.  Not police, not social workers, not mental-health professionals – because they were never given the chance to assist.

If you have someone in your family with mental-health issues, you have to understand that it is who you call or who they contact that determines the outcome of their outburst.  If someone has expressed extreme anger, get them help from a medical professional.  If they talk of suicide, call a social worker or mental-health service.

If it’s possible, get ahead of any violent behavior by getting the family member into professional care. Once you call 911 and report hostile behavior, and your family member attacks the police with a weapon, they’re going to protect themselves and others.  They’ll do the job they are sworn to do. 

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