DENVER (Reuters) - A man who police believe shot and killed a deputy sheriff near Denver was in custody on Thursday while authorities sought two other men for questioning about what led up to the incident, officials said.
Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh declined to name the suspected shooter, telling a news conference on Thursday it could compromise the investigation. He said the pair being sought were not believed to have been directly involved in Wednesday’s shooting of deputy Heath Gumm, 31.
Gumm was the second law enforcement officer slain near Denver in recent weeks. A Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy was killed in a New Year’s Eve standoff in a city suburb where four other deputies and two civilians were also shot.
Wednesday’s shooting took place as deputies were responding to a report of an assault in progress just before 7 p.m. local time near the city of Thornton, about 10 miles (16 km) north of Denver.
Once on the scene, deputies found the suspect had fled. When they caught up with him, he pulled out a handgun and began shooting at the deputies, striking Gumm in the chest, police said. He fled again but was tracked down and taken into custody.
Only a vague description was available of the two men being sought, with witnesses telling police they were “two light skinned black males or dark skin Hispanic males” dressed in all black, according to the sheriff’s office.
Officials said the two men were not considered suspects but were thought to have information about events connected with the original disturbance call.
An autopsy was performed on Thursday on Gumm, who had been on the force since 2012, but no results were immediately released. Local TV news channels broadcast footage of a long procession of police cars with their lights on carrying the deputy’s body to the coroner’s office.
Local resident Jess Williams told Fox News affiliate KDVR that he met Gumm while the officer patrolled his neighborhood.
“He was kind as hell and shook our hands,” the station quoted Williams recalling in an email.
Some 128 law enforcement officers died on the job in the United States in 2017, according to the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta, Chris Kenning in Chicago and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay and Daniel Wallis