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“We know that the suspect had been under surveillance with this task force,” Lt. Howard Black told reporters Tuesday. “We were with him, we were moving with him, we were able to get him into a location in the 4200 block of Galley Road, where he pulls into a parking lot.”
That parking lot was the Murray Hill Apartments. and a number of residents are home.
“[The suspect] actually gets out of the car,” Black said. “Our officers and deputies make a decision to contact him outside of the car. We don’t want to become involved in a pursuit.”
Police said the team was trying to avoid spurring the suspect to flee in the stolen car or to try to run into a nearby apartment. They came up with a plan to arrest the teen while he walked through the parking lot.
“We make contact with him, there’s a brief scuffle with the individual, who immediately pulls a handgun and immediately fires that weapon,” Black said.
“I heard two pops as I was passing by the hall door going downstairs.”
Michael Derossett was walking with his stepson when he heard the commotion.
“It sounded like firecrackers at first. Just ‘pop, pop, pop.'”
A woman who asked to remain anonymous said just before she heard shooting, someone banged on her door.
“I woke up to very loud banging . and somebody screaming, ‘Open the door! Open the door! Let me in, let me in!’
“I was home alone at the time, so I was not going to open the door, but I did approach the door to look out of the peep hole. As I’m approaching the door, I hear somebody else scream, ‘There’s a gun!’ As soon as I heard that there was a gun, I immediately drop to the floor and I just started crawling to my bedroom.”
The suspect and officers traded gunfire.
“I heard multiple gunshots,” the female witness said. “One of which actually came through my bedroom wall and landed on the floor of my bedroom where I was actually hiding.”
“I turned and told my wife and kids to run down the hall to the other end of the building,” Derossett recalled. “Went in, grabbed my gun and came out, and we started realizing there was an immediate presence of police and at that point we knew it was cops.”
Just as the shootout was starting, a resident in the complex was walking past the scene.
“He was going to Subway,” his neighbor Diondre Dunn told 11 News.
“The civilian was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Sheriff Bill Elder told reporters Tuesday.
The resident was struck in the crossfire. His friends tell 11 News he was hit in the back and suffered a spinal cord injury. This has not been corroborated with officials.
The civilian, Flick, Stone, Abendshan, Yanez and the suspect identified Tuesday as 19 year old Springs resident Manuel Zetina were all hit.
“When I ran outside, I observed people laying on the ground. . It was horrible, it was something out of a war movie. I’ve never seen like that,” neighbor James Adams said.
Law enforcement immediately swarmed the complex.
“Siren after siren . police cars from every direction,” said neighbor Paul Robb.
Zetina died at the scene. 11 News has looked into his background, and there’s little to suggest he would be involved in Colorado Springs’ second deadly law enforcement shooting in 26 months. The extent of Zetina’s criminal record is a few traffic violations like driving around with a fake license plate and driving without a license.
However, despite the benign criminal background, our news partner The Gazette reports his Facebook page reveals a different story: an almost 20 year old deep in gang culture.
It’s still unknown why he was driving that stolen car or what he was doing when he pulled into that apartment complex. Black told reporters the investigation was still in its very early stages.
“We’re still just outside of 24 hours of a very complicated investigation with lots of moving parts,” he said Tuesday. “We want to be sure we’re sharing back what we know, but we also want to be careful. We don’t know everything that occurred on that scene yet; we haven’t interviewed everyone that needs to be interviewed.”
Despite comments from witnesses that the BATTLE officers didn’t look like law enforcement, Black said they were all wearing markings “that clearly identified them as police officers or sheriff’s deputies.”
The area law enforcement agencies are reeling from the tragedy, Black said.
“Those officers that are putting on this uniform and moving out and keeping us all safe on a daily basis, the impact that it has on them, seeing their comrades going down at this level of violence is difficult at best.”